Mumbai 26/11 — Have the hotels learnt a lesson?

Dhar­mara­jan G a senior cit­i­zen based in Mum­bai how­ev­er begs to dif­fer from Nagesh. As a free­lance HR advi­sor and con­sul­tant, Mr Dhar­mara­jan G attends meet­ings in hotels in Mum­bai and he feels that hotels are tak­ing actions post 26/11 by installing CCTVs and man­u­al frisk­ing. He says, “The hotels install CCTV devices as a deter­rent to mali­cious attacks by anti-social ele­ments. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the cul­prits seem to know that the hotels do not main­tain the sys­tems well.” He sole­ly blames the 24x7 tele­vi­sion chan­nels for triv­i­al­is­ing and sen­sa­tion­al­is­ing del­i­cate intel­li­gence issues dur­ing 26/11 when the ter­ror­ists were holed up in the Taj Mahal Hotel. Such minute by minute account only served to feed the ter­ror­ists and their asso­ciates with infor­ma­tion about the actions tak­en by the police.”If the tele­vi­sion chan­nels had exer­cised some restraint then more lives could have been saved”, he says.

Ramesh Ved, a char­tered accoun­tant in Mum­bai says that since 2001 when the twin tow­ers were attacked, there has been no such inci­dent in US. But in India, such inci­dents have become reg­u­lar affairs. Take for instance — in the 26/11 inci­dent, the Taj Mahal Hotel was like a maze for the police force but for the ter­ror­ists? How did they get in? Is this pos­si­ble with­out inter­nal sup­port? There is more to this than just a secu­ri­ty lapse. The entry points and exit points in Taj are one too many. Stew­ards, cooks, dri­vers — who will check the integri­ty of these people?

Ter­ror­ists involved in the Taj Mahal Hotel attack seemed to have done a thor­ough rec­ce. They worked with such clock­work pre­ci­sion that they would have put the best project plan­ners to shame. Is this pos­si­ble with­out the involve­ment of insid­ers? Hotel’s ties with exter­nal secu­ri­ty forces (out­sourced) need to be checked.

Thus, the hotels need to engage spe­cial staff for CCTV mon­i­tor­ing if they have not done so already. The hos­pi­tal­i­ty indus­try also shies away from strin­gent mea­sures as they feel that it can be a cause of dis­com­fort to their guests. But is this fair?


Ter­ror­ism risk has raced past tra­di­tion­al theft and fire risks in the hos­pi­tal­i­ty sector.

The Gov­ern­ment of India needs to estab­lish a think tank to come up with cer­tain min­i­mum stan­dards that need to be ful­filled by the hos­pi­tal­i­ty sec­tor to upgrade their secu­ri­ty sys­tems. A strong reg­u­la­tion is a must to improve matters.

The ter­ror­ism pool that GIC Re paid was Rs. 400 crores; the cost of secu­ri­ty sur­veil­lance is not even a frac­tion of that. The Gov­ern­ment needs to do a seri­ous rethink. The hos­pi­tal­i­ty sec­tor should be giv­en some sort of tax exemp­tions for using tech­nol­o­gy to improve secu­ri­ty sur­veil­lance. This is very impor­tant to dri­ve growth in the business.

Home Min­istry needs to issue stan­dards for com­mer­cial build­ings includ­ing hotels. The Gov­ern­ment needs to appoint a state lev­el inde­pen­dent mon­i­tor­ing agency to check com­pli­ance. The hos­pi­tal­i­ty sec­tor needs to focus on inte­grat­ed secu­ri­ty sys­tems. Tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions must be easy to imple­ment — organ­i­sa­tions in secu­ri­ty space are well advised to remem­ber this. On the flip side, sys­tem inte­gra­tors pro­vide solu­tions from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers — they find it dif­fi­cult to inte­grate var­i­ous sys­tems. But this can be corrected.

As of now, the bal­ance between human inter­ven­tion and elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance is more tilt­ed towards the lat­ter. This should change. A vig­i­lant staff is a great source of strength for the hos­pi­tal­i­ty sec­tor. The hotels need to upgrade their sys­tems and set aside a sep­a­rate bud­get for safe­ty and secu­ri­ty measures.

The day is not far when lux­u­ry hotels or high-end hotels that do not val­ue safe­ty or secu­ri­ty will lose their mar­ket share. Hos­pi­tal­i­ty sec­tor has to give high­er prece­dence for safe­ty and secu­ri­ty than wor­ry­ing about dis­com­fort to guests. Some more urgent actions that are need­ed are

  • Depute high tech secu­ri­ty per­son­nel in every sen­si­tive area of the hotel
  • Inspect ven­dors
  • Inspect trucks, vans, park­ing lots
  • Train all employees
  • Relook at the out­sourced mod­el of phys­i­cal secu­ri­ty as this can present risk. An in-house secu­ri­ty offi­cer can also be employed
  • Effec­tive use of tech­nol­o­gy to min­imise dis­com­fort to guests
  • Man­u­al frisk­ing — body­guards of VIPs also should be sub­ject to this
  • Entry and exit points need to have elec­tron­ic secu­ri­ty surveillance
  • Video ana­lyt­ics to be used for com­mon areas of hotels
  • Swift detec­tion of any unto­ward or sus­pi­cious move­ment must be made easy
  • Fin­ger print read­ers for high lev­el guests
  • Cor­ri­dors, floors, park­ing, lob­by areas, mul­ti­ple exits, stair cas­es, esca­la­tors, serv­er rooms, food stor­age areas, kitchen, laun­dry — these areas too need CCTV surveillance
  • Address proofs — pass­port, pan card, aad­har card and oth­er forms of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion must.
  • Restrict­ed access to pools and restaurants

The 3 ele­ments of secu­ri­ty name­ly — Detec­tion, Deter­rence and Delay deserve a height­ened sense of impor­tance. Absence of Safe­ty and secu­ri­ty vig­i­lance can lead to loss of rep­u­ta­tion for the hos­pi­tal­i­ty sector.

Inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies The good news is that inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies are now avail­able to strength­en secu­ri­ty surveillance. 

These are: 

  • Sur­veil­lance cameras
  • Bio­met­ric systems
  • Hi-sec doors
  • Secure air­lock
  • Full body scanners
  • Bag­gage scan
  • Met­al detectors
  • Access con­trol
  • Video sur­veil­lance
  • Intru­sion detection
  • Xray machines

It is high time hos­pi­tal­i­ty indus­try in India starts mak­ing judi­cious use of these prod­ucts and technologies. 

Some of the hotels try to cut cor­ners by installing less­er num­ber of cam­eras than what is required. Much less atten­tion is paid towards minor details like posi­tion of the cam­eras, the cap­tur­ing and stor­age of images, train­ing, retrieval of images, cap­tur­ing mov­ing objects with excel­lent pre­ci­sion and installing cam­eras in com­mon areas like lob­bies, recep­tion etc

About the Author
Kalakad V Gana­p­a­thy — The writer is a free­lancer based in Ban­ga­lore. He has worked on projects cen­tred on Safe­ty, Qual­i­ty, 5S, Busi­ness Process Reengi­neer­ing, Integri­ty Man­age­ment, Tech­nol­o­gy Trends etc. and worked on “Rere­fined oil tech­nol­o­gy strat­e­gy,” has deliv­ered lec­tures in man­age­ment col­leges like S P Jain Glob­al (Sin­ga­pore), Somaiya Insti­tute of Man­age­ment Stud­ies, ITM-Mum­bai, Mum­bai Insti­tute of Man­age­ment, Insur­ance Insti­tute of India where he has taught sub­jects like Risk Man­age­ment, Insur­ance, Project Man­age­ment, Sup­ply Chain Man­age­ment and Tech­nol­o­gy Management. 

Defence and Secu­ri­ty Alert (DSA
Defence and Secu­ri­ty Alert (DSA) mag­a­zine is the only ISO 9001:2008 cer­ti­fied, pre­mier world class, new wave month­ly mag­a­zine which fea­tures par­a­digm chang­ing in-depth analy­ses on defence, secu­ri­ty, safe­ty and sur­veil­lance, focus­ing on devel­op­ing and strate­gic future sce­nar­ios in India and around the world.

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →