Intelligence for solution finding
D.C.Pathak | 09 Apr, 2023
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In the emerging geo-political security scenario and India's internal
security situation - marked by the rise of 'covert' attacks of the
adversary not so much the fear of an open military offensive - we need
Intelligence that embraced a much wider ground not confined to just
reporting on the specifics of any one particular threat to national
security. Intelligence is now expected to indicate what would be the
best possible response to the security spectrum as a whole.
the outreach of Intelligence agencies also had to extend to areas
hitherto not in the reckoning such as the use of the instrumentalities
of social media and cyberspace by the adversary to launch an
'information warfare', efforts to induct civil society forums to build
anti-India narratives, plans of the enemy to inflict damage to the
economy, newer ways invented by the enemy for recruitment of terrorists
and clandestine transfer of arms and narcotics to the targeted country.
Intelligence set-up has rapidly risen to meet the new challenges but
its organisational expansion, manpower deployment strategy and above all
the assimilation by the Agencies of what was earlier called Technical
Intelligence in a generic sense, have now received new-found importance.
This transformation should be considered a work in progress. In
essence, Intelligence is going to be involved far more than before, in
the government's search for solutions and policy responses in any given
Foreign policy is a product of national security and
economic concerns and international relations being caught in a web of
open and secretive bilateral or multilateral bonds, determination of
friends and adversaries itself has to rest on comprehensive
Diplomacy now is more of an effective implementor
of intelligence-based decisions though it still remained a major source
of inputs for the framing of foreign policy itself. Liaison at the level
of National Security Advisors is at present the most authentic
substratum for bilateral and even multi-lateral friendships because
security concerns often override other matters like economic development
and trade and cooperation on the environment.
In the post-Cold
War era, the world has evidently switched over to proxy wars and covert
trans-border operations - India happens to be a prime example of a
country that was at the receiving end of both.
Russia started a military operation in eastern parts of Ukraine in
February last year - without declaring 'war' - and significantly the
US-led West also intervened by way of supporting Ukraine with arms and
ammunition in a proxy mode.
The result is a war of attrition in
which no side is a winner at the end of a year of armed conflict. This
has produced global repercussions and the most serious of these is the
likelihood of the revival of a new Cold War between the US on one hand
and the Russia-China axis, on the other.
India has the
distinction of having emerged as possibly the only acceptable mediator -
thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's unbiased approach to this
conflict and the call he made upfront for cessation of hostilities - but
this is also the moment for India to have a comprehensive Intelligence
assessment of the thinking of other major powers on the Ukraine-Russia
conflict and a host of other international problems.
Ukraine-Russia military confrontation had a local setting - ongoing
grievances between the two neighbours erupted after a period of
unresolved bilateral problems- and the world should have called for
peaceful coexistence between them untainted by whatever had happened
during the Cold War.
India caught global attention precisely
because it raised a sane voice. China has tried to strengthen its
geopolitical standing by offering to take up the question of the
Ukraine-Russia conflict with the warring sides. Intelligence is needed
to track international opinion and monitor the domestic politics on
India's stand on Russia's handling of the conflict with Ukraine.
so happens that in the Indian context, the proxy war dimensions of the
operations of adversaries particularly the Pak-China combination have
assumed serious dimensions requiring a far greater Intelligence
generation across many new areas of security concern.
is trying to accentuate the communal divide in India by announcing that
it had a right to take interest in the Muslim minority here since the
latter was part of Ummah spread across the world and alleging that
Muslims were feeling unprotected in the Modi regime.
Pakistan and China were instigating anti-India lobbies working within
the country and outside, particularly in Kashmir and alleging that human
rights and freedom of expression were being curbed under the
'authoritarian' rule of Prime Minister Modi.
Pak ISI's hand in
the current campaign to revive the Khalistan movement in Punjab is quite
clear. The sources behind the propaganda offensive against India have
to be unearthed by Intelligence so that they could be countered through
operational, diplomatic and legal means.
The ascendancy of the
phenomenon of civil society and intellectual forums indulging in
'politics by proxy' is a new development requiring newer methods of
Intelligence gathering but with a stricter demand for the reliability of
The proxy offensives of the adversaries make
it important that Intelligence agencies had very close coordination with
the Narcotics Control Bureau, NIA and investigators of economic
offences - since these latter entities could run into information that
might have a direct bearing on national security.
The role of
Intelligence in helping the government to formulate comprehensive
action, embracing more than one area of governance, has become far more
pronounced because of the diffused nature of threats owing to the
clandestine working of the adversary in various spheres. There is a
demand for the gap between information and action to be further reduced
and it is therefore expected that Intelligence would be as comprehensive
as possible to enable the government to decipher where all it had to
show a quick response to deal with the problem.
It may be
mentioned that the hallmark of good Intelligence always was that the
course of action suggested itself to the authority receiving it.
exchange of information between friendly countries is today as
important as the production of Intelligence by our own agencies. At one
level the rise of global terror and radicalisation is a threat to the
entire democratic world - the geopolitical scene on the other hand is
encouraging countries to seek their own interests regardless of the
different systems of governance followed by them.
all-weather friendship of China with Pakistan, the tussle between the
Saudi-led fundamentalist regimes and the protagonists of radical Islam
and the advocacy of Brexit by Donald Trump, the then-Republican
President of the US, illustrate this.
India rightly favours
multi-polarity in the world to minimise among other things, the prospect
of another Cold War cramping the economic development of countries that
chose to remain non-aligned towards either block. We have to be
well-informed about the moves of both adversaries and friends to adopt
the correct strategy of national security and this has to happen in an
ongoing manner since world players might not be sticking to a policy at
National interests are permanent not the policies and
in a situation of change - geopolitical and world economy related -
course correction determined by Intelligence would not be infrequent.
This adds to the demand on Intelligence agencies. The latter would also
need to use an organisational perch that could be secured beyond the
It is said that after Warren Christopher, President
Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, propounded in 1993 that ' national
security was inseparable from economic security' corporate America was
given the benefit of access to the 'country reports' drawn up for the
administration by CIA, for enhancing the former's knowledge of various
In turn, the American corporate entities reportedly
helped the Agency to extend its outreach outside of the US. The quantum
of information of interest required by a nation has multiplied and so
has the importance of competent analysis of all the available facts for
garnering Intelligence out of the same.
Officer is a professional of many parts- he can track international
relations, make good use of open interactions and perform equally well
on the desk as well as in operations.
If the Intelligence
agencies are facing a new situation it is also clear that the
recruitment, staffing pattern and placement policy would also have to be
innovative and dynamic. Subject and area expertise, technology
professionalism and the trait of being information savvy are the basic
requirements of an Intelligence organisation.
The old scheme of a
special selection of IPS officers for long-term deputation needs to be
revived and so should the practise of inter-agency exchange of
experienced officers between IB and R&AW, particularly because in
the Indian context external and internal threats to security often have a
'cause and effect' link.
The traditional tradecraft of
recruiting human sources will always be important but the research and
analysis function is becoming increasingly important to track the ways
and modus operandi of the unseen adversary.
follow-up by an agency that first noticed signs of suspicion about an
individual or activity is necessary even after it had passed on the
information to another organisation directly concerned with that matter.
new discipline of the pursuit of information by an agency originally
receiving it was crucial to the overall success of Intelligence. There
have been cases of an agency which received information that pertained
to another agency subject-wise, merely passing that on to the latter
without following it up with the original source and in the process
failing to collect fuller details on its own to the detriment of larger
Finally, it is important that all members of
an Intelligence agency must be willing to choose anonymity of working,
must be imbued with the pride of devotion to a national cause and must
remember that 'information does not find you, you have to find
information'. The training regimen has to be expanded to include
knowledge of what real operations produced for learning so that the new
officers remained updated on tradecraft. In-house discussions on the
security scenario within the bounds of 'need to know', will help since
two heads are better than one.
Similarly, on top of the shelf,
today is the threat of cyber attacks and the Intelligence set up
therefore has to deploy all its resources - including a combination of
human analysis and technological expertise - to deal with the same.
Hacking is something detected only after the event but the Intelligence
effort certainly can zero - in on possible points of vulnerability and
work out technological solutions for strengthening cyber security.
National Cyber Security Policy of India rightly emphasises the
importance of Public Private Partnerships for cyber research through
Centres of Excellence. This signifies the universal trend that
Intelligence set up was having to explore newer channels for enhancing
(The writer is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. Views expressed are personal)
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