Why the new panel on Sprinklr row startles even the IT dept

New panel on Sprinklr takes even IT department by surprise

Thiruvananthapuram: When the Left Democratic Front government has enough trouble to deal with the row over the Sprinklr deal refuses to die down. The latest on this front is the revelation that the new committee on Sprinklr was constituted without the knowledge of the Information Technology department apparently to sabotage the earlier probe report which had exposed the government’s lapses in signing a pact with the US software firm on processing the health data of nearly two million Keralites.

The new committee headed by Justice (retd) Sasidharan Nair was constituted recently to study the report submitted by the former civil aviation secretary M Madhavan Nambiar and cyber safety expert Dr Gulshan Rai.

The new panel was set up by the chief secretary on the directions of the higher-ups in the government. Interestingly, the IT department came to know about the developments related to the new committee only after the General Administration Department (GAD) issued the order. One of the members of the committee Dr Sumesh Divakaran is the state committee member of the Left-affiliated Kerala Gazetted Officers Association (KGOA). Earlier, he was the Idukki district secretary of the KGOA and is known to be very close to power minister M M Mani.

In contrast the previous committee had professionals experienced in the sensitive field. Dr Gulshan Rai was the Chief Information Security Officer in the Prime Minister's Office and even played a major role in framing the country's cyberlaws.

Strange it may sound, the report prepared by him is now being vetted by a committee comprising a retired judge, Sasidharan Nair, and two college teachers.

Many say the new committee has been constituted on the false pretext that it would only look into the issues which the previous panel had not examined.

Probe report under wraps

Even though the earlier committee had recommended the release of the probe report in the public domain, the state government has not taken a decision on the matter yet. This has prompted opposition to raise doubts about the government's intentions. If the government has nothing to hide in the Sprinklr deal then why is it keeping the report confidential?

Even applications submitted through the RTI Act demanding a copy of the probe report have been rejected. It is alleged that the new committee has been constituted to delay the final decision on the Sprinklr deal.

'No comments': Madhavan Nambiar

Meanwhile, the chairman of the previous committee M Madhavan Nambiar declined to comment on the government decision to appoint the new panel.

The job entrusted by the government was completed meticulously. There is nothing more to say for the moment, he said.

As is well known the Kerala government faced a lot of flak after it emerged that the state had signed a deal with a US-based company Sprinklr to manage health-related data of people amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.

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