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RAW: Background and Introduction

BY PROF DR SHASTRA DUTTA PANT
Political scientist John Mearsheimer, in his book “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics”, says that when a state achieves the status of a regional hegemony, it strongly tries to prevent other states from achieving the same status and its exercise of power is perceived as hegemonic behavior. At the same time, the notions of regional hegemony are shaped and judged by the policies of a state, which
claims to be hegemony, with its neighboring states.
India had its regular intelligence wing – the Intelligence Bureau (IB) – like all other countries. IB’s poor performance in 1962 Indo-China war, led to the formation of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
It was formed in complicity with the Russian Intelligence Wing KGB under the covert clauses of Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation signed in July 1968, and entrusted with the functions of gathering foreign intelligence, engaging in counter-terrorism, promoting counter-proliferation, advising Indian policymakers and advancing India’s foreign strategic interests.
After the formation of RAW, IB continued as India’s internal intelligence unit performing internal inelegant intelligence activities while RAW worked as its external intelligence agency. Headed by former IB chief, Rameshwar Nath Kao, RAW quickly got prominence in the global intelligence community with its swift successes in disintegrating Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 and annexing Sikkim to India in 1975. Many analysts credit Kao for these initial successes along with his roles in India’s covert assistance to the African National Congress’s anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. He also had a supporting role in the hijacking Royal Nepal Airlines plane for supporting to the then anti-national element Nepali Congress.
During his nine-year tenure Kao installed stations and appointed agents in almost all Indian missions in the world. Although initially established to gather intelligence and devise strategies to counter Chinese and Pakistani actions, RAW expanded its roles to all other countries of South Asia. Hence, it has been facing allegations of meddling in the internal affairs of its neighboring countries.
Operating under espionage doctrine based on the principle of waging a continuous series of battles of intrigues and secret wars, RAW had several successes in its history of 50 years. Increased influence in Afghanistan, development of India’s nuclear program and the success of African liberation movements during the Cold War are some of them.
Although, RAW’s powers and roles have varied under different prime ministers, it has developed itself as an effective instrument of India’s national power, according to Isha Khan.
Most nations establish only one intelligence agency to provide assistance for good governance. However, India has set up three intelligence agencies: Intelligence Bureau (IB), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). No coordination is seen among these three agencies. Apart from these three, Kargila and Surankote are also active espionage units. These agencies are more engaged in interfering in internal affairs of foreign governments than carrying out intelligence activities at home. RAW carries out its espionage activities outside India. Unlike IB and CBI it is regarded as one of the most powerful institutions in India. Though it is supposed to carry out its espionage activities especially in Pakistan and other neighboring nations under the supervision of the prime minister, often the prime minister himself remains uninformed about specific intelligence activities. Its activities are also kept secret and out of access of the parliament. RAW is assigned to closely observe activities of neighboring countries from perspective of Indian interest only; however, it shows unnecessary interest in Bangladesh, Nepal, China and Pakistan.
To these days, ‘RAW’ is a well-heard term in all sections of the society, although many people are unaware of its details. Its logo is framed by two broken sticks into a ‘V’ shape. It can be interpreted as a symbol of violence. On its logo (The Dharma protects when it is protected) is the motto of RAW, however its actions are opposite to it.
Therefore, its actions are well intended and cannot be discounted as actus non facit reum. In other words the negativity in RAW is not by name but by intention. Actions performed by it prove that it does not pay attention on minor actions but ‘mensrea’.
RAW has its headquarters in New Delhi. It operates directly under the Prime Minister’s Office. The head of RAW is designated as “Secretary (Research)” in the Cabinet Secretariat, and is under the direct command of the Prime Minister and reports on an
administrative basis to the Cabinet Secretary of India, who reports to the Prime Minister. The Aviation Research Centre, Radio Research Center, Electronics and Technical Services, and National Technical Research Organization and Special Frontier Force are divisions that operate under RAW.

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