Indian Intelligence Services (External)

crixus

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Without humint assets, it will gradually become only a collection agency and not an anticipatory agency
32e3ff44-7516-4166-8b62-0c049c714cc5.jpg

Graphic by Taranveer Singh

Anand Arni | | Published 03.10.18, 07:50 AM

The R&AW office in New Delhi.
The R&AW office in New Delhi.
Nitin Rai

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R&AW’s early leadership recognised that it was not just our western neighbour that we needed to be on guard against but, more prudently, the giant to our north. Language skills were stressed and with that came area specialisation. That is, someone who had learnt Chinese could expect to be mostly posted in China-watching stations. It also recognised that issues in neighbouring countries could have a domestic fallout – as happened some years later when the dynamics of Sri Lanka had an impact in Tamil Nadu.
The future

In this, its sixth decade of existence, the task for the leadership is to look at a world outside terrorism and to take stock of new and emerging threats. Already, its counterparts in other parts of the world have begun looking at new frontiers.


It is also an opportune moment for its present leadership to chart the course of the way the agency should now move — towards a specialised agency manned by professionals equipped with language skills and domain expertise and to give the department direction for the next couple of decades as the country seeks to give its citizens a better deal.

It must be honest with itself and take stock of personnel issues — whether it should have a specialised cadre or look at the old ‘ear-marking scheme’ which was prevalent in the IB with police officers being inducted in their fourth year with little option of going back to their parent cadre. Either system would work if inductions are at an early stage when languages can be learnt but it has to be one of the two, not both.

The present hotch-potch of doing both — of having a cadre and yet bringing in deputationists on extended tenures — is simply not working. The average age of inductions into the civil service is close to 30 and this, given that a police officer is eligible for deputation after five to eight years of service, would mean entry into R&AW at an age which makes it difficult to learn languages. There is urgency in taking a decision as new threats loom and the agency must equip itself.
Another move has been the induction of officers, at very senior levels, with little or no external intelligence background. Importing chiefs has not necessarily been a good idea as it builds resentment and affects morale especially when capable persons await in the wings. An outsider would find it difficult, in the time available, to understand the personnel, the workings of external intelligence and master nuances of China-watching or Pakistan operations to be effective.

There was even a recommendation, by people in high places, to fold it back into the Intelligence Bureau. The period also saw six senior cadre officers going on leave over an instance where rules were sidestepped. It was only after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose to personally go into the matter, rather than go by what was given to him, was the decision partially reversed.
This new organisation, hived off from the IB, was called the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and for the first decade of its existence was mostly shrouded in secrecy. The early days were heady for it was an amalgam of those who came from the IB, mostly police officers; a sizeable contingent from the Armed Forces; some from the IAS and from the IFS and more than a few representatives from other civil services. Scientists were brought in to keep an eye on Pakistan’s efforts to go nuclear as also analysts from ‘civil street’. Burying service rivalries, Kao crafted an organisation with new ideas, professionalism, a certain intellectualism where even eccentricities were not frowned upon, an esprit de corps and a sense of belonging — with a hint of Le Carré in it.
The founders then created something next to impossible in a country which sets much store by rules, regulations and quotas — an idea of a cadre vastly different from anything in existence in the country or since. Its initial composition was to be from those who were serving in the department with future entrants to be from the open market — recruitment of the sort undertaken by the MI-6 but, instead of using university dons to talent spot, it chose to ask around from those within, and trusted others, to make recommendations. From these, 13 were recruited initially, in four batches, over alternate years. The new entrants had to overcome many hurdles — charges of nepotism and of being ‘back-door’ entrants because they were not selected by the UPSC (it is another matter that most, if not all, would have qualified had they taken the exams. In fact, some did and qualified).
All these were the original ‘Kao-boys’ — the name for those who constituted the new department and those subsequently recruited by Kao. They have faded out, under various circumstances, with the last retiring five years ago.
Professionally, the leadership needs to focus on what is slowly being lost sight of, not just in India – to go back to its roots and recognise the need to focus on humint, for, without humint assets, R&AW will gradually become only a collection agency and not an anticipatory agency. Corrective steps are already being taken in other parts. The current leadership has in its ranks accomplished practitioners in the art of humint and it will, doubtless, take the right decision for it is always better to anticipate what our adversaries are upto rather than pick up hostile intent off the air-waves (or its modern-day equivalents).

Again, raising humint overseas requires language skills and domain knowledge, something the department must not lose sight of. The idea of compensating for the lack of language expertise by having a cadre of linguists is simply not adequate. Posting an officer overseas without a command over the language is a waste of time, effort and money. Liaison and assistance from friendly foreign agencies are all very fine in a limited context and in the battle against terror but it will not work when you are confronted by an adversarial state.

The task for the next generation of intelligence officers is to provide their political masters the inputs for taking informed decisions, for on this depends the well-being of the state. Our political masters would also do well to give their intelligence chiefs direct access on a regular basis.
Anand Arni is a former special secretary, R&AW
It has been a long and difficult journey but nonetheless a journey where it has done much to earn its spurs. That it has survived is itself a testimony to its utility to the governance of the state. If its existence can be broadly divided into periods of 10 years each, its first decade, or thereabouts, was a period of consolidation and, led by its founding fathers, a period of remarkable successes viz., Bangladesh and Sikkim.

Nevertheless, it was dealt a body-blow as it entered its second decade. It barely survived an attempt by a prime minister, who considered intelligence unholy, to close it down. Kao left and the next chief K Sankaran Nair put in his papers after less than two months. Given good advice, accompanied by some subtle pressure from within his cabinet, Morarji Desai kept the department in place but ordered an overnight slashing of its budget and personnel by a fourth, something any bureaucrat or corporate honcho would deem impossible to implement.
Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi signs the Instrument of Surrender under the gaze of Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka on December 16, 1971. R&AW is said to have played a key role in the creation of Bangladesh
Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi signs the Instrument of Surrender under the gaze of Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka on December 16, 1971. R&AW is said to have played a key role in the creation of Bangladesh
Wikipedia

While its failures, which are many as intelligence is not an exact science but more of an art, are spoken of, its many successes are not. In the public domain is its contribution to the creation of Bangladesh; its singular contribution to the merger of Sikkim into the Indian Union; its prevention of a coup in a friendly country; its part in helping keep friendly forces in Afghanistan afloat; its role in the accord with the Mizo National Front (MNF); its inputs in containing many of the Northeast’s insurgencies and many, many more. Today, its main successes are little known – countering terror; something that is not even in its charter but in which it has achieved enormous successes thanks to some pioneering work done over the last decade or so.
However, the next chief N. F. Suntook, one of only two non-police chiefs the department has had, steered the department through its roughest period in a remarkable fashion. It was during this time that he not only lost experienced officers and suffered a loss of resources but had also to curtail operations under awkward and unpleasant circumstances. Suntook managed to retain the directly recruited officers who had been told that they may have to look for other avenues. He also saw through a debilitating strike — a delayed consequence of the 25 per cent cut.

The next ten years saw consolidation and in fact considerable growth. In-house changes were brought in. The department expanded and regained much of the ground that it had lost in the previous decade. The cadre, after nearly 20 years, was formally constituted with lateral entrants drawn from the IAS, IPS and other services including the armed forces. The lateral entrants resigned from their parent services and were notified as members of the Research and Analysis Service (RAS).
The end of the third decade and the first years of the fourth saw it serve under many Prime Ministers, one of whom, in an attempt to chart a new course in foreign policy, ordered a closure of some aspects of its functioning, something that it has yet to fully recover from. The fourth decade also saw it getting blamed, much of it unwarranted, for intelligence failures in the Kargil war. It was hurt grievously when a post-Kargil review by people unschooled in intelligence recommended the creation of new structures by cutting into the department rather than fortify it.

The last decade has witnessed the pursuit of a policy that disregards Indira Gandhi’s advice. Rules have been amended to benefit deputation. Whereas, earlier, the ratio of cadre to deputation was 70:30, it has now been altered to 50:50. Unrelated personnel issues were used to undermine the cadre and minor infractions and missteps by cadre officers were deliberately portrayed as grave misdemeanours. The cadre is undersubscribed as recruitment has been at a standstill for the last decade.
The Research & Analysis Wing, the department I served in for 37 years, is 50. It came into being on September 21, 1968, following a realisation that intelligence had been inadequate during the 1962 Indo-China conflict. This year is also the 100th year of the birth of its first chief, the legendary R N Kao.

It was one of the first such post-Independence structures created for a specific need, much like the nuclear establishment and ISRO. It owes much to the vision of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who recognised that a modern state needed an agency for external intelligence.
Indira Gandhi chose Kao, then in the Intelligence Bureau (IB), to set up a specialised and independent organisation. V Balachandran, in his excellent commentary on the R&AW on its 50th anniversary (‘Struggling to preserve ‘Kaoboys’ legacy’, The Tribune, September 30, 2018), writes ‘Kao told me that the only advice Indira Gandhi gave him in 1968 was not to structure the new organisation as a Central Police Organisation (CPO). In this she did not mean to deride police work but that foreign intelligence needed something more than police skills. Police is a hierarchical and transparent organisation, accountable to law and society for their actions’..….whereas foreign intelligence often operates outside the law.
The agency’s founder RN Kao created an organisation with an espirit de corps and a hint of Le Carré about it.
The agency’s founder RN Kao created an organisation with an espirit de corps and a hint of Le Carré about it.
ABP
The R&AW owes much to the vision of Indira Gandhi, but in the last decade, it seems to have disregarded her advice.
The R&AW owes much to the vision of Indira Gandhi, but in the last decade, it seems to have disregarded her advice.
ABP

 

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I was literally about 300-400 meters away from the Taj at a pub called Henry Thams. A week before I had dropped an American Jewish friend off at Chabad House and then she joined me at another pub right opposite Chabad House called Bootleggers. It was absolute chaos when it happened.
 

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@Nilgiri @Levina @Joe Shearer@Raptor
At 58:04 he explained how to deal with China and it literally makes sense

He just seems to describe PRC (from his perspective) mostly.

If the prescription is "long view" and "Taiwan"...I would ask him if the divide is so severe between Taiwan and PRC, why the massive investments the former did in the latter (over an extended period of time consciously)? Is Taiwan slowing/withdrawing/liquidating these investments? Taiwan has its own particular relationship with PRC...one can see how many Taiwanese and mainlanders visit each other countries yearly (even with non-recognition of the other's govt and extreme political tensions now).

The answers illustrate you cannot just apply a black and white approach and say Indian planners are short-view minded only (as much as that may be true in lot of economic realm given 5 year terms, political competition/dynamics and such).

There would be a huge imbalance of what arrives on India if it were to switch official recognition to Taiwan (for some hush-hush cyber warfare thing in exchange), that too given Taiwan (and the US and Japan) have been quite instrumental in building up the Chinese economy to what it is today (so really where does the first principle onus and process lie?).

If Taiwan is willing and able to shift all (or even a large enough chunk of) the electronics capital is has sunk into China to India (and give the step by step direction and proof how they will do this and what India needs to do reasonably)...then we might be able to start to talk about such a thing.

Honestly I don't even know if he is credible to say a lot of what he's asserting on what india's cyber war potential is and what Taiwans is in such specific instances that seem to conveniently fit his argument too much.
 
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crixus

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He just seems to describe PRC (from his perspective) mostly.

If the prescription is "long view" and "Taiwan"...I would ask him if the divide is so severe between Taiwan and PRC, why the massive investments the former did in the latter (over an extended period of time consciously)? Is Taiwan slowing/withdrawing/liquidating these investments? Taiwan has its own particular relationship with PRC...one can see how many Taiwanese and mainlanders visit each other countries yearly (even with non-recognition of the other's govt and extreme political tensions now).

The answers illustrate you cannot just apply a black and white approach and say Indian planners are short-view minded only (as much as that may be true in lot of economic realm given 5 year terms, political competition/dynamics and such).

There would be a huge imbalance of what arrives on India if it were to switch official recognition to Taiwan (for some hush-hush cyber warfare thing in exchange), that too given Taiwan (and the US and Japan) have been quite instrumental in building up the Chinese economy to what it is today (so really where does the first principle onus and process lie?).

If Taiwan is willing and able to shift all (or even a large enough chunk of) the electronics capital is has sunk into China to India (and give the step by step direction and proof how they will do this and what India needs to do reasonably)...then we might be able to start to talk about such a thing.

Honestly I don't even know if he is credible to say a lot of what he's asserting on what india's cyber war potential is and what Taiwans is in such specific instances that seem to conveniently fit his argument too much.
All the points you have raised makes sense, the thing which I like about this lecture was if China is helping Pakistan in all possible way just to contain India, what's stopping India to do the same in some form.

Taiwan is not a bad starting point
 

Nilgiri

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All the points you have raised makes sense, the thing which I like about this lecture was if China is helping Pakistan in all possible way just to contain India, what's stopping India to do the same in some form.

Taiwan is not a bad starting point

There is something on offer w.r.t Taiwan and India can definitely explore it.

But Indian foreign policy must not be based on irrational let me hurt you/annoy you/gotcha simply for some kind of revenge....and go all in at great cost with a small country like Taiwan (which Taiwan is itself not willing to do anywhere close).

Taiwan strength lies with its economic development, if they want to prove their intent with India, let them do the legwork on that aspect and prove it.

I really don't see how China is "helping" Pakistan in "all possible ways" either. They know how to extend just enough (say economically and diplomatically) but not go into realm like agreeing with Pakistan "dossier" blab w.r.t India for example.

If we are talking about nuclear weapons, well US bears a lot of culpability on that too alongside China (along with same old Indian timidity)...in that they let it all happen in the 80s, turning a blind eye effectively....and dont seem to really care about helping fix the consequences now. So we will have to take that in stride and work with the real world as best we can now.

If India didn't do the job in 1971 fully, that is our fault.

If India didn't have guts to accept the Israel offer to do another job, again that is our fault.

With this kind of attitude we have for ourselves.... we are supposed to play some patty cake with Taiwan suddenly to "catch up" out of spite when we flubbed the ball multiple times?...and get a high likelihood of a terrible consequence for nothing to show?

It is better to be smart and get even, than angry and try something reckless out of that.

Anyway, at any short or mid term point PM Tsai (and DPP) can also lose power at some juncture and KMT comes back in (and moves to mend ties and give PRC almost everything it wants again) and then we are left shortchanged....with little to no gain.

It is far more conducive to build relations in the best constructive way with the 3 countries that can actually do a serious massive hurt on PRC....even with their nonsensical approach to them since Tianenmen (2 of them helping to majorly build up PRC economy out of their own greed, gullibility, arrogance or all of that).

1 of these has already shifted to (cautious) "ally" of PRC now (Russia).

Remaining two are the key: US and Japan...keeping them where they are and improving with them.

If Taiwan wants something lot more (relative to their population being small), they can put their money where their mouth is a lot more. I mean what can we offer them anyway?

It is best we grow our economy immensely and get our house in order on vital basic things we still are slow on there. Then and only then does a Jambavan moment come for Hanuman where we have forgotten strength to realise and really unlock.

Then there is the other greater point in that 99% folks talking about these alliances w.r.t China dont even know Chinese language. They don't put in the time to do that before they put on their expert know it all cap regarding them.

If you don't study that and then the history of the language w.r.t the state and culture....you simply will not understand Taiwan where it most matters.... much less China.
 

Nilgiri

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More an "M" than a Bond. Big credit to him.

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NEW DELHI: He wasn’t the classical spy who would go behind enemy lines but knew how to get the job done. Many would know RN Kao as the man who founded R&AW, India’s external intelligence agency, but that’s just one of the achievements of the man who was shy and hated the glare of publicity. In this episode of ‘Simply Nitin’, StratNews Global Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale talks about the spymaster who not only built institutions but also played a key role in strategising the lead-up to the 1971 war and the merger of Sikkim with India.

 
F

FalconSlayersDFI

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Typical Pakistanis, call terrorists doing terrorism in Kashmir as freedom fighters, and when you show the equipment they are carrying and their plans then revert back to usual false flag operation theory.


I still remember after Nagrota encounter where 4 paki terrorists were killed, Dawn news of pakistan wrote an article that 4 freedom fighters were martyred and when we showed that they were carrying 11 AK-47s and IEDs adn pak military issue radio comm set and had romanised urdu SMS in one of the terrorist’s phone asking where are you, what happened in romanised urdu and PM and whole Indian cabinet went for a meeting, pakistani media started calling it a false flag operation, typical jokers.
 
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crixus

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Interesting sub stack to read and follow @crixus et al.

I still feel the jod offer was a cover story from Pakisatan to coverup the reason behind his presence in Nepal
 

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