RAW: Research and Analysis Wing, not immune to flaws

Indian Foreign Intelligence Agency (RAW) examines foreign policies and technologies. RAW was first established following the directives of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1968. Following the failures of spying during the wars of 1965 and 1962, RAW began creating its international network of information gathering in 1968.

The Intelligence Bureau (IB), which was responsible for the intelligence organisation of the Indian government, handled external intelligence until 1968. However, India’s disastrous performance in its 1962 border war with China made the need for an independent external intelligence agency abundantly clear, thus RAW came into existence. 

India’s influence abroad is credited to the organisation for greatly expanding its mandate during the last forty years. RAW was first led by Rameshwar Nath Kao, who retired in 1977. Kao is considered by many experts, including officers he worked with, to be the driving force behind RAW’s initial success.

Today RAW collects covert and overt intelligence relating to the military, economic, scientific, and political realms. Also part of the RAW’s mandate is the monitoring of terrorist elements and weapons smugglers entering India. India’s neighbours, in particular China and Pakistan, are RAW’s main areas of focus. Foreign policy is revised, national security policy is shifted, and public opinion in the international community is influenced by the intelligence collected by RAW.

Officials from RAW are sent to various locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel for rigorous training. There is an intensive training focusing on Krav Maga and technological espionage devices for self-defence and secret surveillance. 

RAW originally hired only personnel from the IB (Intelligence Bureau), Indian police services, and Indian military services or revenue departments. Recruitment within the Research and Analysis Wing, however, is now considerably simpler compared to the past. The agency has started picking up university students as well.

In terms of accountability, RAW is only answerable to the Prime Minister of the country and to the Joint Intelligence Committee, not to the parliament of India. 

RAW’s one of the most significant accomplishments includes its considerable role in the formation of Bangladesh along with the Indian army and other security and intelligence agencies. In 1975, the northwest state of Sikkim was also integrated into India by RAW. 

Though RAW is not immune to flaws. It is recognised that RAW does not cooperate with the Intelligence Bureau or other Indian intelligence agencies. In light of this lack of cooperation and coordination, RAW has been subjected to multiple inquiries about their true analytical capabilities and their overall relevance in protecting Indian interests.

Finally, among the most frequent suggestions for reforms pertaining to RAW is the creation of an oversight committee to keep track of the agency’s capabilities, limitations, and costs. 

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