The Third Eye: Intelligence Is A Prime Security Weapon

The Third Eye: Intelligence is a prime security weapon

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime, aided by a brilliant National Security Advisor, has boosted the confidence of national Intelligence agencies about doing their job of protecting the security and integrity of India on a proactive, apolitical and professional note.

 The Third Eye: Intelligence Is A Prime Security

Intelligence Bureau (IB), the ‘mother’ organisation that fostered the family of Intelligence entities including SSB, ARC and R&AW, traced its origins in the Central CID established by the British some 135 years ago and the fact that it saw an essential continuity of its functioning after Independence, is an affirmation of its belief that by and large its goal had been to safeguard the country against the doings of its perceived ‘adversaries’ at any point of time.

IB’s charter multiplied a great deal with the emergence of India as a sovereign nation and as the largest democracy that happened also to inherit the destabilising legacy of a religion-based Partition accompanying its freedom.

The Bureau derives strength from three basic principles of its working.

First is the freedom it exercises in the matter of covering an activity or an entity that – in its ‘own judgement’ – amounted to a threat to national security.

Secondly, the government at the Centre can task the IB which is only appropriate but it never influences its findings – IB may be the only reliable agency to tell the government what is adverse in the public environment disproving the notions that Intelligence only reported what the political masters ‘liked to hear’.

Thirdly, the IB’s communications with the government are not only confidential but are marked as ‘unofficial’ notes meant only for the benefit of the recipients and not available for scrutiny by an outsider.

Working of India’s Intelligence agencies is in line with the principle that they are not police organisations.

The IB is led by IPS officers who join the organisation giving up on the ‘glamour’ of uniform and accepting ‘anonymity’ by choice in lieu of the rare satisfaction they had of directly working for the national cause – with full confidence that good work was always given credit for and with a belief that the nation acknowledged the contribution of Intelligence as a prime weapon of security.

IB officers had no ‘investigation’ powers – they only used special tradecraft techniques to access the information of Intelligence value such as ‘confidential enquiry’, ‘secret watch’ and ‘interview under cover’.

It is a demand of professional ethics for the IB that any of its officers examining a suspect in the custody of police in a security-related case must have that interaction video recorded so that it can be further studied later for its Intelligence output and also kept free of any suspicion of use of force.The information of Intelligence value accruing from it would be shared with the investigative authority which may develop it into ‘evidence’ – Intelligence it may be noted is not the same thing as ‘evidence’.

The IB works in close liaison with the state police through nodal officers assigned by the latter since it is necessary to reduce the gap between ‘information’ and ‘action’ – the Bureau provides information and the police, as part of the government’s executive machinery, acts on it.

Officials of Intelligence agencies have no personal or political vested interest – they are used to serving the government of the day regardless of its political affiliation.

The support extended by the Modi government to the nation’s security set-up has to be lauded in this context.

India as an emerging global power has to take good care of its security and economic concerns – in that order – and that is why in the Modi regime, the National Security Advisor is rightly steering India’s international relations in a major way.

In a fast-changing geopolitical scenario that is causing the world to drift towards a new Cold War with the US-led West being on one side and the axis of China and Russia on the other, security issues were of prime importance for a country like India.

Today, Intelligence about developments happening outside has become extremely important for safeguarding internal security because there is a ‘cause and effect’ relationship between external and internal threats – particularly in the Indian context.

With the rise of terrorism and the threat of covert operations of the two main adversaries – Pakistan and China – against India, the counter-effort of our own Intelligence agencies has expanded a great deal and so has the need for them to work in closer liaison with the Police at various levels.

Intelligence agencies are today helping policymakers with solution-finding – going beyond a mere sharing of information on the threats.

Intelligence classically is information about dangers to national security, that was presented in a manner that the solutions would suggest themselves.

The hallmark of the IB is that it is one source of reliable information – and perhaps the only one – for the powers that be on whatever was happening in the country – favourable or unfavourable – that needed to be taken note of.

The government always felt at ease about something brought to its notice by a trustworthy agency like the IB on any adverse fallout of a policy – for it could at least enable the former to take corrective action on it if required.

Prime Minister Modi’s government understood the importance of keeping security above politics – the boost that national security has received in return can be described as the defining moment of this regime.

The Information Technology revolution that transformed the system of communication by creating instant connectivity across geographical frontiers, has produced new challenges for Intelligence agencies for the reason that social media – a gift of the digital world – became also an instrument of combat.

The adversary could use it for establishing ‘sleeper cells’ of terrorists, recruiting ‘lone wolves’ and turning it into a weapon for running ‘Influence Warfare’.

Since state-of-the-art Intelligence technologies may not be made easily available to us even by our strategic partners, it is necessary for India to develop its own systems – the National Technology Research Organisation (NTRO) is already engaged in this.

Cyber security issues are extremely important today because breaching ‘protected’ information communicated or stored in cyberspace is on top of the adversary’s agenda.

The advent of Generative Artificial Intelligence has multiplied the threat to the security of strategic systems, sensitive establishments and generally to the economic lifelines of the nation.

Promise and perils of AI are under the close examination of India with Prime Minister Modi putting this issue on the agenda of the G20 Summit held under India’s Presidency and following it up by holding a world conference on AI where among other things, the need for international regulations for AI operations was also debated.

The regime of Prime Minister Modi is right on top so far as Intelligence-based handling of threats to national security is concerned.

In the global scene developing around us, India as a nation has to stand on its own to effectively deal with adverse situations and threats.

It is a matter of great satisfaction that India has rapidly advanced towards becoming self-reliant in the area of defence and security.

As the eyes and ears of the state, Intelligence agencies have newer responsibilities of helping the country to become safer and more prosperous.

National security is inseparable from ‘economic security’ and this is the logic why the charter of Intelligence today has expanded a great deal to uncover any enemy operations designed to attack the country’s assets, supply chains and the economic lifeline.

The exchange of information between main Intelligence agencies and those collecting economic Intelligence or looking into economic offences of a certain kind has acquired added importance.

There is awareness of these new dimensions of national security and inter-agency coordination accordingly is constantly improving under the present National Security Advisor who is from an Intelligence background himself.

Intelligence agencies have to have subject and area specialists but the latter had to be thoroughly groomed into the tradecraft of Intelligence.

There are tougher yardsticks applied now to ‘analysis’ for Intelligence production.

Governance, security and economic growth are an integral part of a functioning democracy and there is a need for ‘mainstreaming’ the cause of national security and national interests by launching projects to enhance people’s awareness about them in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution that specifically defines Fundamental Duties too-beyond the Rights.

(The writer is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau.Views are personal)



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