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India’s approach to national security is always piecemeal Incoherent and casual. Threats are countered with shortTerm responses which never fulfil the vital needs of the country. Espionage performance is below the international standard. The reasons are many but the important ones are lack of commitment and an approach that is far from professional.

It is significant that the history of the police of sovereign India begins soon after the turbulent years of the second World War. The shift saw an expansion in the vista of policing worldwide, the most important being clandestine operations for national security. Covert operation blossomed as a full-fledged institution and was recognised as a tool of statecraft only during and after the second World War (Germany, the Soviet Union and Britain before and techniques. during the war and the U.S. and Israel after it perfected the

The establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the early Fifties from the remnants of the office of Special Services( OSS), with an exclusive division to


handle clandestine operations abroad (sometimes domestic operations also) marked a milestone in the history of intelligence.

Free India , in spite of its moral values and abiding faith in the Gandhian philosophy of truth and honesty, found covert operations indispensable for survival. Though attempts were scratchy in the beginning India made significant breakthroughs in penetrating, moulding and controlling the affairs of neighbours after setting up the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to handle covert operations in foreign countries. Its operations and performance in Bangladesh, Sri. Lanka and Pakistan and to a somewhat lesser extent in Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and some of the Gulf countries are equal to the best in the world.

Its role in the creation of Bangladesh, containing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, checkmating Pakistan in Kashmir and controlling the terrorist misadventures of international Sikh communities against Indian targets have earned it worldwide

accolades. This in spite of the fact that the Indian secret police is a lightweight performer in the arena of international clandestine wars and its overall performance is unimpressive for the size and resources of the country. The reasons are many.

The first is the lack of commitment to the national cause and ideologies such as integration, democracy, secularism, nonaligned movement and mixed economy. Another reason is the moral atrophy experienced by the police after independence leading to a


setback in the professional approach. Postings to the RAW with opportunities for foreign assignments have become an obsession depriving the job of all its substance and spirit.

The other reason is political interference in postings and transfers of the RAW officials. It is in fact political connections rather than security screening and clearance and aptitude for clandestine operations which decide the issue. Huge unbudgeted and unaccounted funds at the RAWs disposal make the appointments highly lucrative. This is an extremely dangerous trend in a security apparatus where commitment, trust and absolute secrecy are vital and draw the line between life and death.


Clandestine operations require highly specialised skills, Ignoring this need means compromising and betraying the organisation’s operational efficiency and exposing the country to dangerous security threats. Another important reason for the retarded growth of the Indian secret police is the general lack of security consciousness in the country and the inability to see and place the imperatives of a national security policy in the right perspective. These glitches end up in security breaches. India’s approach to national security is always piecemeal, incoherent and casual.

It does not have a sound and well-conceived national policy. Security threats are always treated with short-term face-saving responses which never contribute to the real long-term security needs of the country. The people who fought a mighty power to


liberate this country from the yoke of foreign rule just half a century ago have not bothered to start a public debate on the subject. Indian security now is left at the mercy of time and it is sheer luck that democracy has escaped the hungry wolves waiting to prey on it.

Security policy is the essence and unifying factor behind all the policies of most developed as well as developing countries. economic Whether in foreign, defence or

policy, industry, trade and commerce, science and technology or human

resource development, the policies are all oriented to national security. Most developed countries have exclusive super agencies reporting directly to the head of government to advise it on, oversee and mastermind national security policies and its operations.

The U.S. has the National Security Agency (NSA) doing yeoman service as the national security advisor to the President and enjoys more powers than the CIA. Israel and Russia have efficient outfits at the political level to formulate their national security interests. Most developed countries have created their own systems to mastermind

matters touching national security with the power to override the decision of other departments. India is yet to learn its lessons from these developments.

The excessive concern for national security has led to the creation of parallel governments and power centres in some countries. There are instances of black acts being committed against the legitimate policies of countries in the garb of national security. Pakistan is an example of a constitutionally-elected government living in the


shadow of fear of its secret police. The Inter-Services Intelligence )ISI) has indeed taken upon itself the responsibilities of national security.


In the context, a positive aspect of India’s poor concern for secret interests is its clean slate regarding the existence of secret parallel governments and clandestine power centres. It is creditworthy that the Indian secret police has remained subordinate and loyal to its legitimate authorities.

The field of operation for the security agencies continues to be confined to traditional methods which ignore the needs of a modern integrated approach in consonance with the national policies and programmes. India cannot afford to treat its security concerns according to the whims and fancies of the people who come to head the Ministries and their political and personal ideologies.

India lacks a regimen of long range security programmes to make its security operations meaningful and purposeful. It is lagging far behind the world standards in hitech ultra-secret espionage operations. Its secret police are yet to make proficient use of the country’s impressive strides in satellite launches and other space innovations.


Except perhaps in the case of Pakistan, India is yet to fully utilise the service of worldclass mercenaries. In short, security is not high on the priority list.

The state of affairs is even worse in the special branches or intelligence units of the States and Union Territories. The former have become tools of the ruling parties which spy over their political opponents and the field situations. Law and order is pushed to the background.

As far as internal security is concerned, they are rather ill-equipped for the task in, manpower resources, hi-tech equipment, expertise, organisational efficiency and

motivation factors, save some routine VIP security exercises which do not call for expertise. These exercises are meant just to oblige and gratify political masters.

Their contacts with the news media, a vital link in intelligence operations, are few and are mostly confined to local newspapers for the purpose of disinformation and to keep track of news dissemination. Occasionally, these contacts are misused to promote favourite subordinates. The role of these special branches in providing skilled recruits to security agencies at the national level has remained a dream.

The institution of an apolitical agency with a permanent core group of experts whose integrity is proven alone can change the situation. This nucleus will act as the guide, advising the head of government in national security matters. Efforts made in


this direction are rather sketchy, ill- conceived and half-hearted. It is high time work was done in earnest to form this comprehensive agency.


In India, national security, for all practical purposes, is synonymous with VIP security and the police refuse to look beyond protecting individuals. This is because of the lopsided loyalties and aberrations in understanding professional objectives and

responsibilities and a tendency to trade off professional responsibilities and services for promotions. This explains the existence of the Black Cats, National Security Guards, Special Protection Group and so on. While the safety of national leaders is important, it is not the plank on which national security stands.

The VIP security has become a public farce with all kinds of people demanding and obtaining security classifications depending on the money and power they have. They get the cover of highly trained police personnel as a mark of their prestige and social standing.

All matters concerned with national security are highly sensitive and should be treated as such. It should not be degraded into a mean exercise for the benefit of a few persons, however influential and important they may be.


Each VIP visit to a region ends up with the entire law and order wing of the police force drawn out for protection duties, throwing normal work out of gear. With the VIPs busy trotting around the country, it has become a serious threat to routine police work.