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Intelligence Is A Prime Security Weapon

Intelligence Is A Prime Security Weapon

Intelligence Is A Prime Security Weapon

By D.C. Pathak

NEW DELHI – In India, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the ‘mother’ organization that fostered the family of Intelligence entities including SSB, ARC and R&AW, traces 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 destabilizing 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 judgment’ – amounted to a threat to national security.

Secondly, the government at the Centretask the IB which is only appropriate, but influence its findings.

Thirdly, 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 organizations.

The IB is led by IPS officers who join the organization giving up on the ‘glamor’ 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.

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 are 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 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 – favorable or unfavorable – 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.

The Information Technology revolution that transformed the system of communication by creating instant connectivity across geographical frontiers, has produced new challenges for intelligence agencies because social media – a gift of the digital world – also became 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, India must develop its systems.

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

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 the main intelligence agencies and those collecting economic Intelligence or looking into economic offenses of a certain kind has acquired added importance.

(Pathak is a former Director of India’s Intelligence Bureau)

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