Interface with Dr. Rajiv Mathur Regional Advisor Asia, OSPAs

Dr. Rajiv Mathur

Dr. Rajiv Mathur

What are the challenges you faced in getting OSPAs launched in India?

The security industry in India has always been of paramount importance, but in recent times, it has become even more critical due to the increasing focus on the subject. The professionals who work in this industry play a vital role in ensuring the safety and security of people, assets, and information. As a result, there are many awards both in India and globally that recognize and honor the contributions of security professionals and the security organisations.

While there are already several prestigious awards in the security industry in India, one award that stands out is the Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPAs). These awards are recognized globally and are known for recognizing outstanding performance in the security industry.

As someone who has been associated with the security industry for a long time, I first learned about the OSPAs about five years ago from Professor Martin Gill, a renowned expert in the field. I was intrigued by the approach taken by the OSPAs and believed that they could be valuable to the security industry in India. However, bringing the OSPAs to India was not an easy task due to the presence of many other awards in the industry.

To address this challenge, I engaged with many industry experts and highlighted the unique value proposi tion that the OSPAs bring to the table. I emphasized how the OSPAs cover all aspects of the security industry, are judged independently, and have relevant and standard criteria that can help raise the bar for the industry in India. After several rounds of discussion and deliberation, we were finally able to bring the OSPAs to India.

What do you consider unique about OSPAs?

The Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPAs) are truly unique in many ways and set a new standard for recognition and excellence in the security industry. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of OSPAs is that it is the only award that is global, with its reach extending to 18 countries already, and with plans to expand to 29 countries with the upcoming Southeast Asia Awards. This global presence provides a unique opportunity for security professionals and organizations from around the world to compete on a level playing field and be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the industry.

One of the most impressive features of OSPAs is its comprehensive coverage of all fields under the security domain. With over 20 categories, OSPAs acknowledge exceptional performances in areas ranging from physical security to logical security, manned guarding, cybersecurity, security training, product development, and much more. It is truly an all-encompassing award that recognizes every aspect of the security industry, making it a coveted and sought-after recognition for professionals across the globe.


Prof. Martin Gill Founder, Ospas

Next year, 2024 will see a significant development. The design of the OSPAs means that all the categories, and the criteria, and the judging process are exactly the same in every country. So next year the winners of the most of the categories will represent India in the global OSPAs. So an individual or company not only wins the India OSPAs but in so doing will enter the global awards. What an accolade that will be. We do know the very best from India is very good indeed, how good the spotlight on the best in the world will shine on India too.

Security technologies are evolving and this offers new opportunities. But we must remember that this is also true of offenders. My own view is that offenders move fast and are quick to spot weaknesses in the latest new security evolution and exploit them ruthlessly. This is why being outstanding is important, offenders are good too (sadly) and they innovate all the time, so just being good at security is nowhere near enough, you have to be outstanding.

Moreover, getting things wrong is not trivial. If security is not optimised and is compromised the consequences can be serious, organisations can lose money and reputation for example, in worst case scenarios they have gone out of business. Individuals can be hurt, physically and emotionally, sometimes seriously and sadly fatalities sometimes happen. Having outstanding security is vital and the OSPAs recognise this.

Moreover, OSPAs provides a global platform for the security industry, organizations, and professionals to showcase their exceptional performances at the international stage.

The OSPAs are truly global awards that will culminate in the World Awards/ International recognition in the year 2024. Winners of each category in every country will compete for the Global Awards, which will be a prestigious event. The best of outstanding security performances of the Indian Security Industry will be discussed, evaluated, recognized, and positively awarded. Who knows, there may even be an OSPAs Global Award coming to India, making it another remarkable achievement for the Indian Security Industry.

What is the modus operandi of OSPAs in India?

The Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPAs) is a unique global award that is conducted in a consistent manner across all the countries where it operates. Currently, OSPAs operates in 18 countries and soon it will be in 29 countries. One of the distinctive features of OSPAs is that it follows the same processes, judging rules, categories, and criteria for nomination and evaluation in every country.

It is worth noting that OSPAs prefers to work with a local partner or associate in each country. Once a local partner is identified, OSPAs write to all the security associations in the country to seek their support and nominate their representative as the jury member. The representatives who are finalized are then exposed to the OSPAs code of conduct and judging and evaluation process to ensure consistency across all countries.

All the categories, criteria, and evaluation process remain constant in every country, and the nominees are required to fill in their answers. The backend team collates the responses and sends them to all the jury members independently. Each jury member assesses the entries and gives scores based on their best understanding and knowledge. If required, a jury meet is conducted to discuss specific categories or entries as per the universal standards, and the finalists are selected based on the scores.

During the judging process, OSPAs or anyone associated with OSPAs has no role to play, and no one gives scores or recommendations. The process is entirely independent. On the day of the awards, the winners are announced, and the event is organized by the local partner. The event is often clubbed with a Thought Leadership Summit that comprises keynote speakers and panel discussions.

How did you advise and select partners for organizing and supporting the Awards in India? Kindly enumerate your major partners.

Your question is intriguing, and I am eager to share my thoughts on it. Firstly, it is worth noting that when it comes to the execution of the OSPAs Awards, there is a universal process that is followed across all countries, including India. This means that the same set of rules, categories, and criteria are applied uniformly. However, there are several key partners that are instrumental in ensuring the success of the event.

The first category of partners that are crucial to the success of the OSPAs Awards are the local execution partners. In India, we have had the privilege of partnering with BW Businessworld, which has proven to be an excellent collaboration thus far. The dynamic team led by Dr. Annurag Batra has been instrumental in ensuring that our initial three editions of OSPAs India were executed seamlessly.

The second set of partners are the supporting associations from various security and allied fields. These associations play a vital role in promoting and encouraging their members to participate in OSPAs India by nominating themselves or their organization for the awards, attending the leadership summit, or supporting the event by sharing their knowledge as panelists or keynote speakers. I would like to express my gratitude to CAPSI, ICISSM, ASIS, IISSM, GACS, CSAI, SPGI, WESS, and others who have extended their unwavering support by nominating their representatives for the jury and judging process.

Finally, the third set of partners that are essential in making the OSPAs Awards a success are the event support partners. These partners include sponsors, media partners, knowledge partners, and awards sponsors. I would like to take this opportunity to thank BW Securityworld, e4exchange media, and SecurityLinkIndia for their consistent support since our launch in India.

Kindly give a brief about the evolution of OSPAs India over the period.

This question is quite fascinating, and I am glad that you have asked this. It is noteworthy that the launch of The Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPAs) in India was a result of over one and a half years of extensive discussions and cooperation with various stakeholders within and outside the security industry. Finally, after numerous rounds of conversations with Dr. Annurag Batra and his team at BW Businessworld, we agreed to hold the first edition of OSPAs India on March 25, 2020.

However, fate had other plans, and the world was hit by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the imposition of lockdowns across the globe. The Indian government’s first lockdown coincidentally began on the same day as the scheduled launch of OSPAs India. Fortunately, we had the foresight to postpone the event until further notice, given the gravity of the situation.

As the world shifted to virtual mode to adapt to the new normal, we decided to launch OSPAs India through an online medium. Thus, the maiden edition of the OSPAs India was launched on August 8, 2020, through a virtual platform. The event was an instant success, with enthusiastic participation, global broadcast, and extensive social media coverage, showcasing some truly outstanding performances. The second edition followed on December 8, 2021, with even greater fanfare and determination to remain resilient against the ongoing pandemic.

Remarkably, the third edition of OSPAs India was held in person in 2023, on the same date as the initial launch – March 25. It was a homecoming event for many industry professionals, bringing together old friends who had not seen each other for a long time, while allowing others to meet in person for the first time. The gala event was held at The Park Hotel, New Delhi, and featured some incredible keynote addresses and panel discussions. The highlight of the occasion was the presence of Prof. Martin Gill, who visited India after 32 years, adding to the excitement and significance of the event.

Kindly elucidate the recently held OSPAs India 2023. What was special about it?

The much-awaited third edition of the Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPA) India finally took place on 25 March 2023, marking the return of physical events after a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was hosted at the centrally located Park Hotel in New Delhi and was a resounding success, drawing in a full house of more than 125 attendees from various security sectors and cities across India.

The event was a grand celebration of outstanding performance in the security industry and witnessed a fantastic mix of brilliant keynote addresses and panel discussions on various topics of utmost importance such as private-public partnerships, cybersecurity, training, women empowerment, and many more. The attendees were enthralled by the quality of discussions, which were insightful and thought-provoking.

The event was a great opportunity for security industry professionals to meet and network after a long break, and it was heart-warming to see old colleagues and friends reunite and make new acquaintances.

The social media presence of the event was also phenomenal, drawing in a wider audience from across the globe and cementing the OSPAs India as one of the most prestigious events in the security industry.

What are your plans for the next year ceremony? How would you motivate the industry to be prepared for 2024 Awards?

The first three editions of the OSPAs have been incredibly successful and we are thrilled with the progress we have made so far. While we have gained recognition within the industry, we have yet to establish ourselves as a prominent name. However, we remain steadfast in our commitment to promoting the importance of security performance in all industries and sectors, which is the sole objective of the OSPAs.

Looking forward, we are planning a bigger event for next year and are currently considering various locations. There is a possibility that we may expand our reach to include South Asian countries. Regardless of the location, we are committed to staying connected with the Indian security industry through participation in regional events and supporting our partners and associations in ethical ways. To facilitate such collaborations, we will be organizing networking events, online discussion forums, and mentorship programs.

As a security advisor, what challenges do you see in the security industry in India?

There are many challenges that security industry in India facing today – first of all, because of the large population – rather now we are the largest population in the world. We have overtaken China few weeks ago. So because of the large population, the security threat is very dynamic. It always keeps changing. On the other hand, large population is the availability of manpower and that is how India is still largely depending upon the man guarding. However, the trends of Mantech security is evolving. We have about 10,000,000 people as security guards and officers in our country, and that is remarkable.

Some of the threats are:

  1. Cybersecurity threats: With the rapid digitization of various industries and government services in India, cybersecurity threats have increased. These include attacks on critical infrastructure, data breaches, ransomware attacks, and phishing attacks.
  2. Insider threats: Insider threats can come from employees, contractors, or partners who have access to sensitive information or systems. Insider threats can cause significant damage to an organization’s reputation and finances.
  3. Lack of training and awareness: Many employees, especially those who work with technology and information systems, may not have sufficient training or awareness of security best practices. This can lead to vulnerabilities in the security posture of an organization.
  4. Physical security challenges: There are many physical security challenges in India, including terrorism, civil unrest, and theft. These challenges can impact the safety of people and assets, as well as the ability of organizations to conduct business.
  5. Regulatory compliance: Organizations in India must comply with various laws and regulations related to security and data privacy. Compliance can be complex and expensive, and failure to comply can result in significant penalties and legal consequences.

Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that involves people, processes, and technology. Organizations must invest in training and awareness programs, implement robust security controls, and stay up-to-date with emerging threats and regulations.

Technologies are ever emerging, and advancing. How as per you, does it impact employment status in India? What are your recommendations to save it?

The emergence and advancement of technology have a significant impact on employment in India, as it does globally. While technology has created new job opportunities in some sectors, it has also led to the loss of jobs in others. The increasing adoption of automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics in industries such as manufacturing, retail, and transportation has led to job displacement, particularly for low-skilled workers.

However, technology also creates new opportunities for employment in fields such as cybersecurity, software development, data analytics, and digital marketing. In India, the government has launched several initiatives to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship such as Startup India, Make in India, and Digital India. These programs aim to promote the growth of the technology sector and create new job opportunities.

To address the impact of technology on employment, India needs to focus on developing its human capital. This includes investing in education and training programs that equip workers with the skills needed to work in the new digital economy. The government and private sector must work together to create a conducive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship, which can create new job opportunities.

Another key area for action is social protection. As technology continues to disrupt traditional industries, it is important to provide support to workers who have lost their jobs or are at risk of job displacement. This could include unemployment benefits, reskilling and upskilling programs, and income support for vulnerable populations.

Given the cyberattacks on institutions like AIIMS, where do you find the challenges, and what are your suggestions to contain them?

The cyberattacks on institutions like AIIMS highlight the growing threat of cybercrime in India.

Some of the key challenges that need to be addressed include:

Lack of cybersecurity awareness: Many organizations, particularly in the public sector, do not have sufficient awareness of cybersecurity best practices. This can make them vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Insufficient investment in cybersecurity: Many organizations in India do not allocate sufficient resources to cybersecurity. This can result in outdated systems, unpatched vulnerabilities, and inadequate protection against cyber threats.

Limited cybersecurity talent pool: The shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals in India makes it challenging for organizations to build and maintain a robust cybersecurity posture.

To contain cyberattacks in India, I would recommend the following:

  1. Build cybersecurity awareness: Organizations must invest in cybersecurity awareness training for employees to educate them on the risks of cyber threats and best practices for mitigating them.
  2. Invest in cybersecurity infrastructure: Organizations should allocate sufficient resources to cybersecurity infrastructure, including firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions.
  3. Increase the cybersecurity talent pool: India must focus on developing its cybersecurity talent pool by investing in education and training programs, incentivizing students to take up cybersecurity as a career option, and creating a supportive ecosystem for cybersecurity startups.
  4. Implement best practices: Organizations should implement best practices for cybersecurity, such as conducting regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing, keeping systems up-todate with the latest security patches, and implementing multi-factor authentication for critical systems.
  5. Collaborate and share information: Collaboration and information sharing between government agencies, private sector organizations, and international partners can help identify and respond to cyber threats more effectively.

Pro-active than reactive – experts tend to support that? What is your take and how can that be accomplished?

From a physical security perspective, a proactive approach involves identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities to physical assets, such as buildings, equipment, and personnel, and implementing measures to prevent or mitigate these threats. This includes conducting risk assessments, implementing access controls, installing surveillance systems, and training employees on emergency response procedures.

In an Indian context, organizations can adopt a proactive approach to physical security by:

  1. Conducting regular risk assessments.
  2. Implementing access controls.
  3. Installing surveillance systems.
  4. Training employees on emergency response procedures.

In an Indian context, organizations can adopt a proactive approach to cyber security by:

  1. Implementing a comprehensive cyber security strategy.
  2. Conducting regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing.
  3. Investing in cyber security technology.
  4. Educating employees on cyber security best practices.

A proactive approach to physical and cyber security is essential to ensure the safety and security of personnel, assets, and data in India. Organizations must adopt a comprehensive strategy that involves regular risk assessments, access controls, surveillance systems, advanced technology, employee education, and collaboration to stay ahead of potential threats and vulnerabilities.

What is your take on the education and training in security industry? What are your suggestions?

Education and training are critical components of the security industry, as they provide individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify, prevent, and respond to security threats.

In Indian context, there are several suggestions to improve education and training in the security industry:

  1. Develop specialized security courses.
  2. Provide practical training.
  3. Foster collaboration between educational institutions and industry.
  4. Develop certification programs.
  5. Encourage lifelong learning.

Therefore, improving education and training in the security industry in India is critical to building a skilled workforce capable of identifying, preventing, and responding to security threats.



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