A year before the country votes in the next general elections, intelligence gathering is a clear focus of the centre. This is demonstrated even in the budget allocations made this year by the Centre for the Ministry of Home Affairs.
According to government documents, last year's budget for The National Intelligence Grid, or NATGRID, was Rs 87.77 crore, but this year it has been enhanced to 200.53 crore. It's part of the overall budget allocation of Rs 1.96 lakh crore to the MHA.
NATGRID is aimed at providing cutting-edge technology to boost India's counter-terror capabilities. A final synchronisation and testing of the electronic database is reportedly underway.
The NATGRID database is available to prominent federal agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, Central Board of Direct Taxes (for Income Tax Department) (CBDT), Cabinet Secretariat, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Directorate General of GST Intelligence, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Financial Intelligence Unit, and the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The budget for the Intelligence Bureau -- an agency tasked to collect intelligence domestically -- has also been enhanced from Rs 3,168 crore to Rs 3,418 crore.
The money has been sanctioned for better functioning of the Multi Agency Centre.
Interestingly, the budget for the Special Protection Group, which provides security solely to the Prime Minister of the country, has also been enhanced from Rs 396 crores to Rs 433.60 crores.
Rs 1,564 crore was also proposed for the Census 2021 and related activities in the Union Budget 2023-24 presented by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Parliament on Wednesday.
The latest allocation of 1,564.65 crore for the Census, Survey and Statistics/Registrar General of India (RGI), the budget document says, "...includes provisions for the office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India and various schemes of RGI, including National Population Register (NPR) and expenditure on Census, 2021."
The Centre has repeatedly claimed that the decennial exercise was delayed due to the Covid pandemic.