By Prof Dr Shastra Dutta Pant
(Continued from previous week)
RAW ultimately wants to keep its neighboring countries in its grip, initially through bilateral treaties. Its initial strategy to annex small neighboring countries did not succeed until 1975. So the KGB assisting group revised its strategy to hatch conspiracies against the neighboring countries to exploit their natural resources and expand its hegemony through it. Continuation of its ploys can be seen through incidents like founding of Bangladesh by fragmenting Pakistan, annexing Sikkim, having control over Bhutan’s foreign and defense sectors and the escalating feud between Singhali and Tamil communities in Sri Lanka. The recent Tarai conflict in Nepal is a replica of Indian policy of inciting division in Sri Lanka.
The Research and Analysis Wing [RAW] is India’s foreign intelligence agency. RAW has become an effective instrument of Indian national power, and has assumed a significant role in carrying out India’s domestic and foreign policies. RAW has engaged in espionage against Pakistan and other neighboring countries. It has enjoyed the backing of successive
Indian governments in these efforts. Working directly under the Prime Minister, the structure and operation of the wing are kept secret from the Parliament.
Consequently, considerable attention is paid by RAW to Pakistan and China, countries that are traditional rivals of India.
Until 1968, India’s external intelligence was also handled by the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Its failure to detect Chinese build up for the attack before the Indo-China war in 1962 triggered the need to form a separate agency for external intelligence.
RAW has always been a vital actor in Indian security, development and policy making apparatus. In short span of time, it has mastered the art of spy warfare. Among the renowned 10 intelligence agencies in the world RAW ranks 6th while its immediate rival ISI is in the third position. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi entrusted RAW a more dynamic role by asking it to create a powerful organ within the organization in 1970s, which could undertake covert operations in neighboring countries. It is thus capable that makes
RAW a more fearsome agency than its superior KGB, CIA, MI-6, BND and the Mossad. Its internal role is confined only in monitoring events having external threat. RAW has engaged in disinformation campaigns, espionage and sabotage against neighboring countries.
RAW has enjoyed the backing of the ministry of the external affairs and successive Indian governments in these efforts as it works directly under the Prime Minister.
Prior to the inception of RAW, Intelligence Bureau (IB), created by the British, took the responsibility of international intelligence collection. Its jurisdiction was increased to collect information along India’s borders in 1933, sensing the political turmoil in the world that eventually led to Second World War.
After India’s independence from Britain in 1947 Sanjeevi Pillai took over IB’s leadership as its first Indian Director. Having been depleted of trained manpower by the exit of the British, Pillai tried to run the bureau on M15 lines. After Britain’s exit, IB was left with very little trained manpower as many trained intelligence officers left with the British. As a result intelligence mobilization before and during the 1962 war turned out to be a debacle. Its ineffective performance in the 1962 Sino-Indian war led Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to order the formation of a dedicated foreign intelligence agency.
After Indo-Pakistan war in 1965, India’s Chief of Army Staff General, Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri, also called for more effective intelligence-gathering. Towards the end of 1966 the concept of a separate foreign intelligence agency began to take concrete shape.
India’s External Intelligence:
Indira Gandhi gave pace to Nehru’s initial concept of a second full-fledged intelligence agency – dedicated to international affairs.
Rameshwar Nath Kao, then a deputy director of Intelligence Bureau, prepared and submitted a blueprint for the new agency. Kao was appointed as the chief of India’s first foreign intelligence agency,
Research and Analysis Wing. RAW was given the responsibility for strategic external intelligence, human as well as technical, plus concurrent responsibility with the Directorate-General of Military Intelligence for tactical trans-border military intelligence up to a certain depth across the Line of Control (LOC) and the international border.
RAW started as a wing of the main Intelligence Bureau with 250 employees and an annual budget of IRs 20 million. It grew quickly. By early 1970s, its annual budget had increased IRs 300 million and it employed several thousand staff. In 1971, it persuaded the government to set up Aviation Research Centre (ARC). ARC’s job was aerial reconnaissance. It replaced Indian Air Force’s old
reconnaissance aircraft. By mid-1970s, ARC had gathered high quality aerial pictures of the installations along the Chinese and Pakistani borders.
Gradually other divisions such as The Radio Research Center and Electronics & Technology Services were created under RAW. The Special Frontier Force, working to train Bangali rebels,
was brought under RAW’s jurisdiction.
In 2004 the Government of India added yet another signal intelligence agency called the National Technical Facilities Organization (NTFO), which was later renamed as National Technical Research Organization (NTRO). It is believed to be functioning under titular control of RAW, although it remains autonomous to some degree. While the exact nature of the operations conducted by NTRO is classified, it is believed that it deals with research on imagery and communications using various platforms.
The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), under the Cabinet Secretariat, is responsible for coordinating and analyzing intelligence activities between RAW, the Intelligence Bureau and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). In practice, however, the effectiveness of the JIC has been varied. With the establishment of the National Security Council in 1999, the role of the JIC has been merged with the NSC. RAW’s legal status is unusual, in that it is not an “Agency”, but a “Wing” of the Cabinet Secretariat. Hence, RAW is not answerable to the Parliament of India on any issue, which keeps it out of reach of the Right to Information Act. This exemption was granted through Section 24, Schedule II of the act. However, information regarding the allegations of corruption and human rights violations has to be disclosed.
(Excerpts from the book “Machination of RAW in Transitional Nepal” authored by Pant.)