India’s premier intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) observed its its 54th foundation day on September 21. Established in 1968 to handle the nation’s international intelligence affairs, RAW came into force after the China-India War in 1962. At present, the intelligence arm operates under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Since its inception, RAW is credited with providing intelligence support to various significant operations on foreign soil. Working closely with India’s intelligence organizations, RAW works in cooperation with the Intelligence Bureau or other Indian intelligence agencies. This delineates RAW’s true analytic capabilities and its overall relevance to the protection of India’s interests.
Genesis of RAW
Until 1968, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was responsible for India’s internal intelligence, and also handled external intelligence. However, after the 1962 China-India war and Indo-Pakistani war in 1965, India established a separate and distinct external intelligence organization – the Research and Analysis Wing.
In 1968, then India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed R. N. Kao as the first director of RAW. Started with 250 employees and a budget of $405,600, RAW undertook two major missions:
– To maintain awareness about the military and political activities in the neighboring countries, primarily China and Pakistan
– Promote the control of military equipment supplies into Pakistan
Under the leadership of R. N. Kao (from 1968 to 1977), RAW provided intelligence support, which resulted in India’s successful operations which included the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, the defeat of Pakistan during the Kargil conflict of 1971, the accession of Sikkim in 1975, and the increase of India’s support to Afghanistan.
With the intelligence agency’s successes, RAW quickly grew in both personnel and financing. By the mid-1970s, as a report, RAW’s budget rose to $6.1 million and its workforce increased to several thousand.
Furthermore, as per R. N. Kao’s suggestion, the Indian government established the Aviation Research Center (ARC) to provide aerial reconnaissance of neighboring countries. This capability allowed RAW to better prepare for impending conflict by obtaining overhead images of installations and activities along with India’s international borders.
Many books have been written on R.N. Kao’s life and his style of work
Several books have also been written on R. N. Kao’s life and style, including R.N. Kao: Gentleman Spymaster, The Kaoboys of R&AW, Raw-Indian Detective Saga, A Life in Secret, and Escape to nowhere.
The working mechanism of RAW
The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) collects military, economic, scientific, and political intelligence through covert and overt operations. The agency is also charged with monitoring terrorist elements and smuggling rings that transport weapons and ammunition into India.
RAW primarily focuses on India’s neighbors. The collected inputs by RAW also help Indian officials, which are further used in national security policy and revise the foreign policy.
Attached Bodies or Autonomous Bodies
The Aerial Reconnaissance Centre (ARC) collects high-quality overhead imagery of activities and installations in neighboring countries.
Special Frontier Force
The inspector general of a paramilitary force of India, the Special Frontier Force reports to the director-general of security for RAW. While the force has functions independent of RAW, it is often fielded to support covert and overt RAW missions.