How did the terrorists enter one of India’s most prominent hotels undetected? The answer is simple. Most hotels, including the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mumbai, and the Trident do not have X-ray machines to screen baggage. The hospitality industry by and large resists putting these “ugly machines" at entry points as it fears this will annoy guests.

Pramoud Vinayak Rao | The Security Systems Expert

Most hotels in India follow a standard three-level security check nowadays. The first is checking the car, then physical frisking of the guest at the entry and the checking of handbags with the help of a metal detector. Bigger bags and knapsacks, which these guys seemed to have been carrying, are seldom properly frisked. Even if the metal detector beeps, nine times out of 10, the people manning the security counters do not pen the bags. Most of these security measures are an eyewash.

Beefing up security measures is not in our DNA. Look at the US after 9/11; there hasn’t been any big attacks since, whereas in India there has been attack after attack, blast after blast. We congratulate ourselves on being able to recover from such tragedies fast but that is so foolish. We never bother to strengthen security measures to prevent tragedies.

Pramoud Vinayak Rao is the managing director of Zicom Electronic Security Systems Ltd which, in association with the Mumbai police, manages 100 CCTV cameras installed around Mumbai.

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