Technology has made the world a global village, bringing with it its own successes and drawbacks. The dynamic and fast-paced world we are living in, coupled with rising crime in the real and virtual worlds thus create an overwhelming sense of panic and trepidation. But, we are not alone. Having guardian angels watching over us, helping us skirt over danger, educating us, and working behind the scenes to make our life better and safer is what GFSU stands for. The Gujarat Forensic Sciences University (GFSU), the world’s first and only University dedicated to forensic and allied sciences, was established by the Government of Gujarat in 2008 in Gandhinagar, with an objective of fulfilling the acute shortage against increasing demand of forensic experts in the country and around the world. It provides hands-on training pertaining to various areas of forensic science, forensic psychology and research and development. Heading this Institution as Director General since its inception is Dr. J.M.Vyas, the country’s leading forensic expert. Dr. Vyas has held many roles and responsibilities in his field of expertise. He has received the President’s Medal for Meritorious Service in 1977, Best Forensic Science Laboratory Director of India in 2004, and the Lifetime Achievement Award in the area of Forensic Chemistry in 2008. In an interaction with Satya Swaroop, the Managing Editor, The Protector, Dr. Vyas shares about the importance of forensics in the criminal justice system, career opportunities and future goals.
What are the various courses for training and updation of skillsets for professionals in law enforcement agencies? How does it compare with global standards?
Capacity building has been one of the major objectives of the University since its inception. At present, GFSU is imparting training on Forensic Science, Crime Scene Investigation, Cyber Security, Digital Forensics, Financial Frauds, Homeland Security, Psychological Methods of Investigation and other allied subjects to law enforcement agency officers from India and abroad. Being the world’s only forensic university, GFSU is maintaining world-class standards in course content development, selection of trainers and teaching-learning methodology. Every year, around 1200 Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) officers from more than 62 countries opt to undergo training at GFSU. We have more than 50 percent trainees coming from Africa alone. The continuous evaluation and constant improvements in infrastructural facilities, resources and content help the University in achieving global standards in all dimensions.
How many cases using forensics have contributed to the conviction of the accused? How has the conviction rate improved in the last three to five years using forensics?
There is no definite data available in India and the world. A detailed study and research needs to be done, but certainly there has been a substantial increase in use of scientific methods for solving cases worldwide. More and more weightage is given on scientific investigations as it gives more accurate results of crime scene management.
What are the strategies you adopt using forensics when dealing with cybercrime in banking and financial services, online frauds etc?
Most of the reported cybercrimes related to banking and financial services are successful because of lack of awareness by end-users. The University has been actively contributing in reducing the number of cyber financial crimes by assisting various banks and government agencies by assisting them, educating their employees, and publishing advisories related to different types of cyber crimes. GFSU also imparts training to the technical staff of government and private financial organizations in securing their cyber space. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banking Association (IBA) have empanelled GFSU as one of the cyber security training centers. At a larger scale, GFSU conducts training programs on cyber security for vigilance officers.
What are the opportunities for the young generation to be attracted to forensic science and technology?
Forensic science and technology has always been a field of interest as it involves expertise to investigate complex and challenging cases. Cyber security may be the fastest growing career field today. Many young people have shown interest in this field after the inception of GFSU. At present, we offer more than 34 programs related to crime investigation and crime prevention. The response from the students in opting these programs to create a career in forensic science is overwhelming as applications for the programs outnumber the seats available for each course. However, forensic science has been an unexplored and untouched area in the past years due to various reasons. This led to a situation where forensic laboratories across the nation have inadequate skilled resources/forensic scientists to work on cases. Due to this scarcity, the number of pending cases is very high. To address this issue and bring down the number of pendency cases, there will be a huge demand for forensic scientists in the coming years.
How can forensic science technology be put to use for better results and convictions?
With advancement in technology, criminals have become more sophisticated. The availability of information in electronic media has made it possible to adopt anti-forensic techniques at a larger scale. Forensic science therefore plays a major role in crime investigation, as without it, results can be inaccurate and inconclusive, either leading a case to a dead-end, or giving an opportunity to the culprit to be let off scot-free thus, denying justice to the victim. Being a branch of science, the results derived from forensic science are objective and more accurate. Implementing it always gives better results and higher conviction rates.
How is GFSU geared to meet newer and evolving challenges in criminal and cyber investigations?
Cyberspace has become very dynamic in this day and age. We believe that should a war erupt in the coming future, then it will be in the fifth space – Cyberspace (after land, water, air and space). To keep pace with this fast-changing phenomenon, we need to prepare a pool of cyber security experts to handle emerging crimes. And this is always a challenge. Being a pioneer in forensic science, we at GFSU are always concerned about cyber security. Apart from state-of-the-art laboratories for regular teaching and training, we have also established a Center of Excellence – Cyber Defence Center – to address issues related to cyber space. Up-to-date curriculum, laboratories with highly equipped tools and technologies have been set up to cater to the increasing need of cyber security experts. GFSU is also actively carrying research work in emerging areas like drone forensics, machine learning-based security, darknet investigation, advanced malware analysis, IoT, crypto currency, and others.
What are the growth potential and future plans of GFSU?
We are going to increase our academic programs like Cyber Psychology. We will also give importance to training.
Anything you would like to add for the readers of ‘The Protector’ magazine?
Let me say it as it is– An individual can lie and be manipulated, but scientific evidence will not lie. So, rely more and more on scientific evidence..