Imagine embedding a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip on to your child's skin or your vehicle, which, in turn, will help you constantly monitor their movements in case of a kidnapping or theft. Sounds like something out of Steven Spielberg's Minority Report? Wrong.
Welcome to the brave new world of 'preventive forensics'. A world where crimes are attempted to be stopped before they happen. And it's not just the US or a few other developed countries where investigating agencies have started developing preventive forensics tools. India, too, has joined the bandwagon.
Says M.S. Rao, the chief forensic scientist in the directorate of forensic science under the ministry of home affairs, "Although preventive forensics is still at a nascent stage in India, efforts are being undertaken to use modern tools and gadgets to anticipate and devise appropriate strategies to defeat the modus operandi of criminal activities and negate those efforts."
Rao, who was in the city to participate in a day-long national seminar of forensic science and medical jurisprudence, said the US and some other countries in Europe have increasingly started relying on this science. "It's like shifting the focus from post-facto solutions to pre-incident detection and prevention techniques," he explains. In fact, he is so enthusiastic about the possibilities that he wants the government to take pre-crime testing in mission mode.
"The scale of potential harm inflicted by the acts of present-day crimes is so great that it is impossible to handle it using traditional methods," says Rao.
Retired director of the Central Bureau of Investigation D.R. Kaarthikeyan, the man who investigated the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, is equally gungho on the greater need to use forensic psychological tools like brain mapping, polygraph test and narco-analysis, to negate increased security risks.
"It is possible to shift the base of forensic science from a post-incident analytical tool to the crime hatchers' corners," he says, adding that these techniques can be effectively used to guard vital installations, secret documents, and even antique artefacts at museums.