Research and Analysis Wing: Wikis


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Research and Analysis Wing
धर्मो रक्षति रक्षित:
Agency overview
Formed 21 September 1968
Headquarters New Delhi, India
Agency executive K. C. Verma, Secretary (R)
Parent agency Prime Minister's Office, GoI
Child agency The Aviation Research Centre

The Radio Research Center

Electronics & Tech. Services.

National Tech. Facilities Organisation

Special Frontier Force

Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW or RAW)[1] is India's external intelligence agency. It was formed in September 1968, after the newly independent Republic of India was faced with 2 consecutive wars, the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and the India-Pakistani war of 1965, as it was evident that a credible intelligence gathering setup was lacking. Its primary function is collection of external intelligence, counter-terrorism and covert operations. In addition, it is responsible for obtaining and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations, and persons, in order to advise Indian foreign policymakers. Until the creation of R&AW, the Intelligence Bureau handled both internal and external intelligence.[2][3][4]

The R&AW has its headquarters on Lodhi Road in New Delhi. The current director of the organization is K. C. Verma, a 1971 Jharkand batch IPS officer.[5]



R. N. Kao (1918-2002). Founding Director of R&AW

Foreign intelligence failure during the Sino-Indian war (October 20 - November 21, 1962) led then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to order a dedicated foreign intelligence agency to be established, which became the Research and Analysis Wing.[2][4]

Prior to its inception, intelligence collection was primarily the responsibility of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which was created by the British. In 1933, sensing the political turmoil in the world which eventually led to the Second World War, the Intelligence Bureau's responsibilities were increased to include the collection of intelligence along India's borders. In 1947, after independence, Sanjeevi Pillai took over as the first Indian Director of IB. Having been depleted of trained manpower by the exit of the British, Pillai tried to run the bureau on MI5 lines. In 1949, Pillai organized a small foreign intelligence operation, but the Indian debacle in the Sino-Indian war of 1962 showed it to be ineffective. After the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, Indian Chief of Army Staff General Jayanta Nath Chaudhury called for more intelligence-gathering.[2][3]

Around the end of 1966 the concept of a separate foreign intelligence agency began to take concrete shape. In 1968, after Indira Gandhi had taken over, it was decided that a full-fledged second security service was needed. R. N. Kao,[6] then a deputy director of the Intelligence Bureau, submitted a blueprint for the new agency. Kao was appointed as the chief of India's first foreign intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. The R&AW 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 LOC and the international border.[2][4]

The framework of Indian intelligence

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), under the Cabinet Secretariat, is responsible for co-ordinating and analyzing intelligence activities between R&AW, the Intelligence Bureau and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). In practice, however, the effectiveness of the JIC has been varied.[7] With the establishment of the National Security Council in 1999, the role of the JIC has been merged with the NSC. R&AW's legal status is unusual, in that it is not an "Agency", but a "Wing" of the Cabinet Secretariat. Hence, R&AW is not answerable to the Parliament of India on any issue, which keeps it out of reach of the Right to Information Act.[8][9]


R&AW started as a wing of the main Intelligence Bureau with 250 employees and an annual budget of Rs 2 crore (roughly $450,000). In the early seventies, its annual budget had risen to Rs 30 crores while its personnel numbered several thousand. In 1971, Kao had persuaded the Government to set up the Aviation Research Centre (ARC). The ARC's job was aerial reconnaissance.[citation needed][10] It replaced the Indian Air Force's old reconnaissance aircraft and by the mid-70s, R&AW, through the ARC, had high quality aerial pictures of the installations along the Chinese and Pakistani borders. Presently, the budget of R&AW is speculated to be as high as $150 million[11][12] to as low as $31 million.[13]

National Technical Facilities Organisation

The Government of India has added another intelligence agency which is dedicated to collection of technical intelligence (TECHINT). India's new hi-tech spying agency, the National Technical Facilities Organisation (NTFO), also known as National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), is believed to be functioning under R&AW, although it remains autonomous to some degree. While the exact nature of the operations conducted by NTRO are classified, it is believed that it deals with research on imagery and communications using various platforms.[2][3][3]


     India      Key strategic, military & economic partners      Key strategic and economic partners      Economic partners      Hostile nations/states/actors

The present R&AW[14] objectives include, and are not limited to:

  • Monitoring the political and military developments in adjoining countries, which have direct bearing on India's national security and the formulation of its foreign policy.
  • Secondly, molding international public opinion with the help of the strong and vibrant Indian diaspora.[2][3]

In the past, following the Sino-Indian war and due to what were volatile relations between India and Pakistan, R&AW's objectives had also consisted the following:

  • To watch the development of international communism and the schism between the two big communist nations, the Soviet Union and China. As with other countries, both powers had direct access to the communist parties in India.
  • To control and limit the supply of military hardware to Pakistan, from mostly European countries, America and more importantly from China.[2][3]


Organizational structure of R&AW.

R&AW has been organized on the lines of the CIA.[15] The Director of R&AW is designated "Secretary (Research)" in the Cabinet Secretariat. Most of the previous Directors have been experts on either Pakistan or China. They also have the benefit of training in either the USA or the UK, and more recently in Israel.[16] The "Secretary (R)", although is under direct command of Prime Minister, reports on an administrative basis to the Cabinet Secretary, who reports to the Prime Minister (PM). However, on a daily basis the "Secretary (R)" reports to the National Security Advisor. Reporting to the "Secretary (R)" are:[17][18]

  • An Additional Director responsible for the Office of Special Operations and intelligence collected from different countries processed by large number of Joint Secretaries, who are the functional heads of various specified desks with different regional divisions/areas/countries: Area one - Pakistan; Area two - China and Southeast Asia; Area three - the Middle East and Africa; and Area four - other countries. Two Special Joint Secretaries, reporting to the Additional Director, head the Electronics and Technical Department which is the nodal agency for ETS, NTFO and the RRC.
  • The Director General of Security having two important sections the Aviation Research Centre headed by one Special Director and the Special Services Bureau controlled by two Special Secretaries.

The internal structure of the R&AW is a matter of speculation, but brief overviews of the same are present in the public domain. Attached to the Headquarters of R&AW at Lodhi Road, New Delhi are different regional headquarters, which have direct links to overseas stations and are headed by a controlling officer who keeps records of different projects assigned to field officers who are posted abroad. Intelligence is usually collected from a variety of sources by field officers and deputy field officers; it is either preprocessed by a senior field officer or by a desk officer. The desk officer then passes the information to the Joint Secretary and then on to the Additional Secretary and from there it is disseminated to the concerned end user. R&AW personnel are called "Research Officers" instead of the traditional "agents". There is a sizable number of female officers in R&AW even at the operational level. In recent years, R&AW has shifted its primary focus from Pakistan to China and have started operating a separate desk for this purpose.[17]


Most of the Directors of Research and Analysis Wing have been Indian Police Service (IPS) officers. RN Kao and Sankaran Nair belonged to the Imperial Police (IP), of the British colonial days which was renamed as the Indian Police Service after Indian Independence in 1947. N.F.Suntook had served in the Indian Navy, then in the Indian Police Service and in the Indian Frontier Administration Service. Vikram Sood was from the Indian Postal Service. A.S.Dulat was an Indian Police Service officer deputed from the Intelligence Bureau, while K.C.Verma is an ex-Intelligence Bureau officer. All the Directors have been experts on China or Pakistan except for Ashok Chaturvedi, who is an expert on Nepal.[21]



Initially, R&AW relied primarily on trained intelligence officers who were recruited directly. These belonged to the external wing of the Intelligence Bureau. In times of great expansion, many candidates were taken from the military, police and other services. Later, R&AW began directly recruiting graduates from universities. Today, R&AW has its own service cadre, the Research and Analysis Service (RAS) to absorb talent. Recruitment is mostly by deputation from the Armed Forces or Civil Service Officers. The Civil and Defense Service Officers permanently resign their cadre and join the Research and Analysis Service (RAS). However, according to recent reports, officers can return to their parent cadre after serving a specific period in the agency if they wish to.[22] Most of the Directors have been officers from the IPS. R&AW also employs a number of linguists and other experts in various fields.[23]

Basic training

Basic training commences with 'pep talks' to boost the morale of the new recruit. This is a ten-day phase in which the inductee is familiarized with the real world of intelligence and espionage, as opposed to the spies of fiction. Common usages, technical jargon and classification of information are taught. Case studies of other agencies like CIA, KGB, Chinese Secret Agency and ISI are presented for study. The inductee is also taught that intelligence organisations do not identify who is friend and who is foe, the country's foreign policy does. Basic classroom training to R&AW officers are imparted at R&AW's Training Institute in Gurgaon.[24][25]

S.S.Uban receiving the guard of Honor at Chakrata Mountain Training Facility of SFF

Advanced training

After completing 'Basic Training' the recruit is now attached to a Field Intelligence Bureau (FIB). His training here lasts for 1–2 years. He is given firsthand experience of what it was to be out in the figurative cold, conducting clandestine operations. During night exercises under realistic conditions, he is taught infiltration and exfiltration. He is instructed to avoid capture and, if caught, how to face interrogation. He learns the art of reconnoiter, making contacts, and, the numerous skills of operating an intelligence mission. At the end of the field training, the new recruit is brought back to the school for final polishing. Before his deployment in the field, he is given exhaustive training in the art of self-defense, an introduction to martial arts and the use of technical espionage devices. He is also drilled in various administrative disciplines so that he could take his place in the foreign missions without arousing suspicion. He is now ready to operate under the cover of an Embassy to gather information, set up his own network of informers, moles or operatives as the task may require. Field training is provided in the Special Frontier Force Headquarters at Chakrata.[4][26]


The Secretary (R&AW) reported to the Vohra Committee that R&AW offices abroad have limited strength and are largely geared to the collection of military, economic, scientific and political intelligence. R&AW monitors the activities of certain organisations abroad only insofar as they relate to their involvement with narco terrorist elements and smuggling arms, ammunition, explosives, etc. into India.[27] It does not monitor the activities of criminal elements abroad, which are mainly confined to normal smuggling without any links to terrorist elements. The present strength of the Agency’s offices abroad would not permit it to enlarge its field of activities. If, however, there is evidence to suggest that these organisations have links with Intelligence agencies of other countries, and that they are being used or are likely to be used by such countries for destabilising India's economy, it would become R&AW’s responsibility to monitor their activities.[2][3]

The primary mission of R&AW includes aggressive intelligence collection via espionage, psychological warfare, subversion and sabotage.[citation needed] R&AW maintains active collaboration with other secret services in various countries. Its contacts with FSB of Russia, KHAD, the Afghan agency, Israel's Mossad, the CIA and MI6 have been well-known, a common interest being Pakistan's nuclear programme.[citation needed] R&AW has been active in obtaining information and operating through third countries like Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Myanmar and Singapore.[2]

R&AW obtains information critical to Indian strategic interests, both by overt and covert means. The data is then classified and filed with the assistance of the computer networks. International media centers can easily absorb R&AW operatives and provide freedom of movement.[2][3]

Major operations

  • ELINT operations in Himalayas:[28] After China tested its first nuclear weapons on October 16, 1964, at Lop Nur, Xinjiang, India and the USA shared a common fear about the nuclear capabilities of China.[29] Owing to the extreme remoteness of Chinese testing grounds and strict secrecy surrounding the Chinese nuclear programme, it was almost impossible to carry out any HUMINT operation. So, the CIA in the late 1960s decided to launch an ELINT operation along with R&AW and ARC to track China's nuclear tests and monitor its missile launches. The operation, in the garb of a mountaineering expedition to Nanda Devi involved celebrated Indian climber M S Kohli who along with operatives of Special Frontier Force and the CIA - most notably Jim Rhyne, a veteran STOL pilot - was to place a permanent ELINT device, a transceiver powered by a plutonium battery, that could detect and report data on future nuclear tests carried out by China.[30] The monitoring device was near successfully implanted on Nanda Devi, when an avalanche forced a hasty withdrawal.[31] Later, a subsequent mountain operation to retrieve or replant the device was aborted when it was found that the device was lost. Recent reports indicate that radiation traces from this device have been discovered in sediment below the mountain.[32] However, the actual data is not conclusive.
  • Creation of Bangladesh and aftermath:[33][34] In the early 1970s the army of Pakistan prosecuted a bloody military crackdown in response to the Bangladesh independence movement.[35][36] Nearly 10 million refugees fled to India. The R&AW's Bangladesh operation began in early 1970 by sowing discord among the disgruntled population of Bangladesh (then called East Pakistan), suffering repression by the Pakistani political establishment. This led to the creation of the Mukti Bahini. RAW was responsible for supplying information and heavy ammunition to this organization. However within months of independence of Bangladesh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated at his residence. R&AW operatives claim that they had advance information about Mujib-ur-Rahman's assassination but Sheikh Mujib tragically ignored[6] R&AW's inputs. He was killed along with 40 members of his family. R&AW thus failed to prevent the assassination which led to the loss of a charismatic leader who had a soft corner for India after all they had done for his country's independence. However, R&AW has successfully thwarted plans of assassinating Sheikh Hasina Wazed, daughter of Mujibur Rahman, by Islamist extremists and the ISI.[37]
  • Operation Smiling Buddha: Operation Smiling Buddha was the name given to India's nuclear programme. The task to keep it under tight wraps for security was given to R&AW.[38] This was the first time that R&AW was involved in a project inside India. On 18 May 1974, India detonated a 15-kiloton plutonium device at Pokhran and became a member of the nuclear club.[3]
  • Amalgamation of Sikkim: Bordered by Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and West Bengal in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim was ruled by a Maharaja. The Indian Government had recognized the title of Chogyal (Dharma Raja) for the Maharaja of Sikkim. In 1972, R&AW was authorized to install a pro-Indian democratic government there. In less than three years, Sikkim became the 22nd State of the Indian Union, on April 26, 1975.[3]
  • Kahuta's Blueprint:[39][40] Kahuta is the site of the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), Pakistan's main nuclear weapons laboratory as well as an emerging center for long-range missile development. The primary Pakistani fissile-material production facility is located at Kahuta, employing gas centrifuge enrichment technology to produce Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU). R&AW first confirmed Pakistan's nuclear programs by analyzing the hair samples snatched from the floor of barber shops near KRL; which showed that Pakistan had developed the ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade quality. R&AW agents knew of Kahuta Research Laboratories from at least early 1978,[41] when the then Indian Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, stopped R&AW's operations on Pakistan's covert nuclear weapons program. In an indiscreet moment in a telephone conversation one day, Morarji Desai informed the then Pakistan President, Zia-ul-Haq, that India was aware of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. According to later reports, acting on this "tip-off", Pakistani Intelligence eliminated R&AW's sources on Kahuta, leaving India in the dark about Pakistan's nuclear weapons program from then on.[3][4][42]
  • Special Operations: In the mid 1980's, R&AW set up two covert groups, Counterintelligence Team-X(CIT-X) and Counterintelligence Team-J(CIT-J), the first directed at Pakistan[43] and the second at Khalistani groups. Rabinder Singh, the R&AW double agent who defected to the United States in 2004, helped run CIT-J in its early years. Both these covert groups used the services of cross-border traffickers to ferry weapons and funds across the border, much as their ISI counterparts were doing. According to former R&AW official and noted security analyst B. Raman, the Indian counter-campaign yielded results. "The role of our cover action capability in putting an end to the ISI's interference in Punjab", he wrote in 2002, "by making such interference prohibitively costly is little known and understood." These covert operations were discontinued during the tenure of IK Gujral never restarted.[44]
  • Kanishka Bombing case:[45][46][47] On 23 June 1985 Air India's Flight 182 was blown up near Ireland and 329 innocent lives were lost. On the same day, another explosion took place at Tokyo's Narita airport's transit baggage building where baggage was being transferred from Cathay Pacific Flight No CP 003 to Air India Flight 301 which was scheduled for Bangkok. Both aircraft were loaded with explosives from Canadian airports. Flight 301 got saved because of a delay in its departure. This was considered as a major set back to R&AW for failing to gather enough intelligence about the Khalistani terrorists.[48][49]
  • Sri Lanka:[51][52]. R&AW started training the LTTE to keep a check on Sri Lanka, which had helped Pakistan in the Indo-Pak War by allowing Pakistani ships to refuel at Sri Lankan ports. However, the LTTE created a lot of problems and complications and the then Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi was forced to send the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in 1987 to restore normalcy in the region. The disastrous mission of the IPKF was blamed by many on the lack of coordination between the IPKF and R&AW. Its most disastrous manifestation was the Heliborne assault on LTTE HQ in the Jaffna University campus in the opening stages of Operation Pawan. The site was chosen without any consultation with the R&AW. The dropping paratroopers became easy targets for the LTTE. A number of soldiers were killed. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi is also blamed as a fallout of the failed R&AW operation in Sri Lanka.[53]
  • Operation Chanakya:[54] This was the R&AW operation in the Kashmir region to infiltrate various ISI-backed Kashmiri separatist groups and restore peace in the Kashmir valley. R&AW operatives infiltrated the area, collected military intelligence, and provided evidence about ISI's involvement in training and funding Kashmiri separatist groups.[55][56] R&AW was successful not only in unearthing the links between the ISI and the separatist groups, but also in infiltrating and neutralizing the militancy in the Kashmir valley.[57][58][59] R&AW is also credited for creating a split in the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.[60] Operation Chanakya also marked the creation of pro-Indian groups in Kashmir like the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen, Muslim Mujahideen etc. These counter-insurgencies consist of ex-militants and relatives of those slain in the conflict. Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen leader Kokka Parrey was himself assassinated by separatists.[2]
  • Help to the Northern Alliance: After the rise of Pakistan and American backed Taliban in Afghanistan, India decided to side with the Northern Alliance and the Soviet Union [61] By 1996, R&AW had built a 25 bed military hospital[62] at the Farkhor Air Base.[63] This airport was used by the Aviation Research Centre, the reconnaissance arm of R&AW, to repair and operate the Northern Alliance's aerial support. This relationship was further cemented in the 2001 Afgan war. India supplied the Northern Alliance high altitude warfare equipment worth around $8–10 million.[64][65] R&AW was the first intelligence agency to determine the extent of the Kunduz airlift.[66]
  • Kargil War: R&AW was heavily criticized in 1999, following the Pakistani incursions at Kargil. Critics accused R&AW of failing to provide intelligence that could have prevented the ensuing ten-week conflict that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of a full-scale war. While the Army has been critical of the information they received,[66] R&AW has pointed the finger at the politicians, claiming they had provided all the necessary information. However, R&AW was successful in intercepting a telephonic conversation between Pervez Musharraf, the then Pakistan Army Chief who was in Beijing and his chief of staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Aziz in Islamabad.[67] This tape was later published by India to prove Pakistani involvement in the Kargil incursion.[67][68]
  • Operation Leech: Surrounded by Arakans and dense forest, Myanmar had always been a worrisome point for Indian intelligence. As the major player in the area, India has sought to promote democracy and install friendly governments in the region. To these ends, R&AW cultivated Burmese rebel groups and pro-democracy coalitions, especially the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). India allowed the KIA to carry a limited trade in jade and precious stones using Indian territory and even supplied them weapons. It is further alleged that KIA chief Maran Brang Seng met the R&AW chief in Delhi twice. However, when the KIA became the main source of training and weapons for all northeastern rebel groups, R&AW initiated an operation, code named Operation Leech, to assassinate the leaders of the Burmese rebels as an example to other groups. Six top rebel leaders, including military wing chief of National Unity Party of Arakans (NUPA), Khaing Raza, were shot dead and 34 Arakanese guerrillas were arrested and charged with gunrunning.[3][69]
  • War on Terror: Although R&AW's contribution to the War on Terror is highly classified, the organization gained some attention in the Western media after claims that it was assisting the United States by providing intelligence on Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban's whereabouts. Maps and photographs of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan along with other evidence implicating Osama bin Laden in terrorist attacks were given to US intelligence officials. R&AW's role in the War on Terror may increase as US intelligence has indicated that it sees R&AW as a more reliable ally than Pakistani intelligence. It has further come to light that a timely tip-off by R&AW helped foil a third assassination plot against Pakistan's former President, General Pervez Musharraf.[4][70]
  • 2008 Mumbai attacks: About 2-6 months before 26/11 Mumbai attacks R&AW had intercepted several telephone calls through SIGNIT[71] which pointed at impending attacks on Mumbai Hotels by Pakistan based terrorists,[72] however there was a coordination failure and no follow up action was taken.[73] On January 15, 2010, in a successful snatch operation R&AW agents nabbed Sheikh Abdul Khwaja, one of the handlers of the 26/11 attacks, chief of HuJI India operations and a most wanted terror suspect in India, from Colombo, Sri Lanka and brought him over to Hyderabad, India for formal arrest.[74]


From its inception R&AW has been criticised for being an agency not answerable to the people of India (R&AW reports to Prime Minister only). Fears arose that it could turn into the KGB of India. Such fears were kept at bay by the R&AW's able leadership (although detractors of R&AW and especially the Janata Party have accused the agency of letting itself be used for terrorising and intimidating opposition during emergencies). The main controversy which has plagued R&AW in recent years is over bureaucratization of the system with allegations about favoritism in promotions, corruption, ego clashes, inter-departmental rivalry etc.[75][76][77] R&AW also suffers from ethnic imbalances in the officer level. Noted security analyst and former Additional Secretary B.Raman has criticised the agency for its asymmetric growth; "while being strong in its capability for covert action it is weak in its capability for intelligence collection, analysis and assessment. Strong in low and medium-grade intelligence, weak in high-grade intelligence. Strong in technical intelligence, weak in human intelligence. Strong in collation, weak in analysis. Strong in investigation, weak in prevention. Strong in crisis management, weak in crisis prevention."[78][79]

  • In the February 8, 2010 edition Outlook Magazine reported on former RAW Chief, Ashok Chaturvedi, utilizing Government of India funds to take his wife along on international trips. After retirement, Chaturvedi had a diplomatic passport issued for himself and his wife. Per Outlook Magazine: "Only grade ‘A’ ambassadors—usually IFS officers posted in key countries like the UK and US—are allowed to hold diplomatic passports after retirement. The majority, who do not fit that bill, hold passports issued to ordinary citizens. In fact, all former RAW chiefs Outlook spoke to confirmed they had surrendered their diplomatic passports the day they retired. And their spouses weren’t entitled to diplomatic passports even while they were in service." [80]
  • In September 2007, R&AW was involved in a controversy due to a high profile CBI raid at the residence of Major General (retired) V K Singh, a retired Joint Secretary of R&AW who has recently written a book on R&AW where it was alleged that political interference and corruption in the intelligence agency has made it vulnerable to defections. One of the instances of corruption mentioned in the book was the preference given by R&AW departments towards purchasing intelligence from the 'Rohde and Schwarz' company.[81] A reason for such corruption as explained by the author is that "...R&AW was not answerable to any outside agency - the control of the Prime Minister's Office was perfunctionary, at best - many officers thought that they were not only above the law but a law unto themselves." [82] A case under the Official Secrets Act has also been filed against V K Singh.[83]
  • R&AW was in the middle of a controversy when a Director level employee, head of the R&AW Training Institute in Gurgaon from 2005[84] tried to commit suicide in front of Prime Minister's Office on August 19, 2008, alleging inaction and wrong findings to a sexual harassment complaint filed against a Joint Secretary, who was on deputation to R&AW.[85][86]
  • Another controversy erupted for the agency when a senior technical officer was arrested by the CBI on graft charges, on February 4, 2009. The scientist, a Director level employee, worked in the division that granted export licenses to companies dealing in “sensitive” items, including defence-related equipment. He was accused of demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs.1 lakh from a Chennai based manufacturer for obtaining an export license.[87][88]
  • In September 2009, seven Additional Secretaries from the RAS cadre had gone on protest leave after A. B. Mathur, an IPS officer, superseded them to the post of Special Secretary.[89][90]

Defections and spy scandals

In recent years, there have been few high profile defections and scandals which have tarnished its image as an efficient agency.

  • In 2004, there was spy scandal involving the CIA.[93] Rabinder Singh, Joint secretary and heading R&AW's South East Asia department, defected to America on June 5, 2004. R&AW had already become suspicious about his movements and he was under surveillance and his telephones were also tapped. He was confronted by Counter Intelligence officials on 19 April 2004. Despite all precautions, Rabinder Singh managed to defect with 'sensitive files' he had allegedly removed from R&AW's headquarters in south New Delhi. This embarrassing fiasco and national security failure were attributed to weak surveillance, shoddy investigation and lack of coordination between the Counter-Intelligence and Security (CIS), IB and R&AW.[94] According to unconfirmed reports, Singh has surfaced in Virginia, USA.[95] Recently in an affidavit submitted to the court, R&AW deposed that Singh has been traced to New Jersey.[4][96]
  • In 2007, there was a spy scandal involving Bangladesh.[97] A Bangladeshi DGFI agent concealed his nationality, and was known by the name of Diwan Chand Mallik. He was known to have some important documents which were damaging for national security. He joined in 1999 and used to live in East Delhi. A case of cheating and forgery was filed at the Lodhi Colony police station on the basis of a complaint by a senior R&AW official.[98]

In popular culture

Unlike the CIA, the existence of R&AW gets little or no recall among the populace. The average Indian is not aware of the existence of such an organisation or even India's internal intelligence agency, the Intelligence Bureau. However, efforts have been made to explain the activities of RAW in various movies. However, these films are directed to the more serious film-goer. Unlike Hollywood, which has portrayed FBI, CIA, MI6 etc in various films, Bollywood has been shy to explore the area of espionage, especially R&AW on the silver screen. Excessive secrecy surrounding activities and rare declassification of information are blamed as the main reason behind this. However there are films from Bollywood which refers to agents, espionage, terrorism etc. but till recently none of them openly mentioned R&AW. One of the earliest Indian films portraying espionage was Prem Pujari starring Dev Anand in 1970. In 1973, just after the war with Pakistan came Hindustan Ki Kasam (Starring Raaj Kumar, Priya Rajvansh). However, films like The Hero: Love Story of a Spy (Starring Sunny Deol, Preity Zinta and Priyanka Chopra),[99] Aankhen (1968, Ramanand Sagar Production, Starring Dharmendra, Mala Sinha),[100] Such a Long Journey (1998, UK Canada Co-production, Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson, starring Naseeruddin Shah),[101] 16 December (Starring Milind Soman, Sushant Singh, Dipanita Sharma),[102] Hindustan Ki Kasam (1999, starring Ajay Devgan in double role, Amitabh Bachchan), Asambhav (2004), starring Arjun Rampal as Army Captain and Jammel Khan essaying the role of a fictional RAW agent Atul Bhatnagar[103] etc. have openly mentioned R&AW and its allied units. Popular Hindi movie Veer-Zaara has mentioned the intelligence agency R&AW, when the lead character Veer (portrayed by Shahrukh Khan) was accused by Pakistani police of being an undercover spy for R&AW. In Mission Istanbul, model actress Shweta Bhardwaj played the role of Lisa Lobo, a R&AW agent in Istanbul, who helps journalist Vikas Sagar, played by Zayed Khan, in foiling the anti - India terrorist attempts by a terror group. In Maan Gaye Mughal-e-Azam Rahul Bose plays a R&AW officer (Arjun Rastogi) who attempts to thwart explosives delivery in the city. In Chamku R&AW is shown as undertaking a covert program much in the lines of the Bourne series to build up an assassination team.

Apart from Bollywood, the regional film industries of India have also cashed in on the patriotic appeal of espionage. Telugu movie star Krishna's film titled Goodachari No. 1 explores the life of an undercover agent working to thwart ISI activities in India. Cine star Bala Krishna's latest film in the direction of Swarna Subba Rao, titled Vijayendra Varma is based on a real life story of a R&AW agent, where he donned the role of the R&AW officer in the film.[104] The Tamil movie Ottran casts Arjun Sarja as a R&AW officer. A 1990's Malayalam film Highway portrays Suresh Gopi as a R&AW agent investigating a bomb blast. Kamal Hasan in a film titled Dasavathaaram and later a dubbed Hindi version titled Dashavatar[105] essayed the role of a Bengali R&AW operative.[106][107]

The thriving entertainment channels in India have also started to tap into the theme of Intelligence agencies. Time Bomb 9/11, a series aired on Zee TV, features Rajeev Khandelwal in the role of a R&AW field officer who attempts to defuse a nuclear bomb set in India, as well as saving the life of the Indian Prime Minister. Zee Bangla also featured a serial named Mohona where the chief protagonist is a R&AW officer.

In Anthony Horowitz's book Crocodile Tears, Alex is assisted multiple times by R&AW agent Rahim.


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Further reading

  • Inside RAW - Ashok Raina, Vikas Publishing House New Delhi, 1981
  • Open Secrets: India's Intelligence Unveiled - Maloy Krishna Dhar, New Delhi, Manas Publication, 2005 ISBN 81-7049-240-8
  • Mission to Pakistan: An Intelligence Agent in Pakistan Maloy Kri. Dhar, Manas Publication, January 1, 2002, ISBN 978-8170491484
  • Mission: Pakistan, Maloy Krishna Dhar, iUniverse (January 2004), ISBN 978-0595304820
  • Fulcrum of Evil: ISI, CIA and Al qaeda Nexus - Maloy K Dhar, New Delhi, Manas Publication, 2006, ISBN 81-7049-278-5.
  • Sin of National conscience - R.N.Kulkarni, Mysore: Kritagnya Publication, 2004.
  • Intelligence: Past, Present, Future - B.R.Raman
  • Indians Hand Evidence on bin Laden to US, Herald Sun, September 17, 2001.
  • The KaoBoys of RAW: Down Memory Lane, B. Raman, Lancer Publishers (2007), ISBN 097961743X
  • Inside IB and RAW: The Rolling stone that gathered moss, K. Sankaran Nayar, Manas Publication
  • RAW: Global and Regional Ambitions edited by Rashid Ahmad Khan and Muhammad Saleem, Islamabad Policy Research Institute, Asia Printers, Islamabad, 2005

External links

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