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Issue No.: 570 | December 2014
 

NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE MANAGEMENT

Vappala Balachandran
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NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE MANAGEMENT by Vappala Balachandran ●  Indus Source Books, Mumbai  ●  info@indussource.com  ●  www.indussource.com    ●  2014  ●   pp.331   ●   Rs.895.

Reviewed by Brig. Suresh C. Sharma (Retd.), advisor to the telecom industry and a freelance writer. And member, Advisory Board of Freedom First. 
Email: brigscs@gmail.com
The book is a collection of articles and papers contributed by Mr. Balachandran, a distinguished officer of the IPS cadre. He has served in Maharashtra Police for 17 years and in the Central foreign Intelligence for 19 years. He has an inside view of the security and intelligence apparatus. 

There is need to collate, coordinate and arbitrate to build up actionable intelligence from bits of conflicting reports. Absence of an apex body to carry out the function of arbitration and policy formation has been responsible for lapses that resulted in the Kargil crisis, assassinations of Indira Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi and the attack on political leaders at Rajghat on 2 October 1986. 

National Security Council [NSC] was formed in November 1998 as an apex body but it did not perform its functions well. During the Kargil crisis, it met only on 8 June 1999, a month after the incursion was confirmed. Nor did the Joint Intelligence Committee [JIC], recast in 1965, deliver the desired results. 
Work suffers due to turf wars between various intelligence agencies. The State Police cannot handle the increasing traditional and non-traditional threats to security. This task should be the responsibility of the Central Government who needs international cooperation to tackle terrorism, supply of arms and drug running. The author has given examples of link-up between crime and terrorism which can be dealt with only by cooperation between Central and State agencies. All attempts to achieve this change have not been successful due to opposition by the states. In the USA, the NSC is an advisory body and is staffed by professionals often drawn from outside. Lateral induction in the US from outside is often done even at senior levels in various departments. The bureaucracy would not let this happen in India.    
 
During the cold war, the CIA undertook covert actions as against espionage. This led to wrong recruitment and promotion policies and the quality of intelligence work suffered. It was preoccupied with the threat of chemical and biological weapons and ignored terror groups residing in Pakistan. In India, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has inherited the British tradition of watching the opposition and neglecting external threats. It continued to consider communists to be the main threat. Indira Gandhi had to warn the IB about the dangers from the communalists. RAW is largely staffed by police personnel on deputation for a limited period which is not an ideal arrangement. Direct recruitment through UPSC has not given good results either. The difficulty remains unsolved.

Intelligence work has suffered due to lack of oversight and accountability. The CIA has established a website for the information of the public. We deny information to the public in "public interest”. Reports of enquiry into major security lapses like the attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai remains classified while the recommendations of the Kargil Enquiry Committee have not been implemented. Vice- President Ansari made a plea for sharing the information with the public. He suggested substituting "need to know "phrase with "need to share.”   

Under pressure from the Western countries, the Ministry of External Affairs [MEA], attempted to change India’s policy on Non-Proliferation Treaty. Intervention by Dr. Sethna at the behest of the author and Kao, the RAW Chief, rectified the situation. The MEA had made a similar mistake by committing that the Indian communication satellite launched by NASA would not be used by the Defence Services. The Space Department was able to get this commitment cancelled. These two incidents bring out the dire need for coordination amongst the various ministries. Shashi Tharoor has suggested augmenting of the under-staffed diplomatic service. The difficulty arises due to our diplomats giving priority to conferences rather than to ground realities.
 
President Sadat of Egypt visited Israel in search of peace and followed it up with talks at Camp David in the USA. Progress could be possible by compromise on core issues. This could not have been achieved if the negotiations had been left to bureaucrats sticking to old files. Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore was a similar attempt but it failed due to the Kargil aggression. The author recommends people to people contact and fostering of bilateral relations without waiting for a solution to the Kashmir problem. This approach ignores vested interests of the Army and rise of the Taliban in Pakistan. 

In a TV interview on 16th October 2014, Musharraf openly talked of inciting Kashmiris to revolt and infiltration by a few hundred thousand Pakistanis. Security experts view China’s military and economic rise as a threat while the finance writers predict a China-India century. Those in charge of national security cannot ignore threats arising from China’s modernization of their armed forces. In his press conference on Navy Day, Admiral Joshi, Chief of Naval Staff, was right to assure the nation about our capability to protect our interests.
 
The USA has a similar approach of engagement and containment. The "containers” want to subvert China through military and economic pressure while the "engagers” prefer a détente and hope that democratic China would adopt a Western style democracy, following a peaceful path. A democratic government does not necessarily give up hostile acts as we have seen with Pakistan. The governments of Benazir Bhutto and Sharif continued to follow wrong policies directed against India and Afghanistan.

Our security experts are concerned about China establishing a string of pearls around India. It is a step to ensure safe transit of oil needed by China. Isolated pearls can be neutralized and should not be a threat as long as we have adequate military strength to do so. China cannot be blamed for using its economic power to build close relations with India’s neighbours. In disregard to national security, we have been guided by electoral interests in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu regarding sharing River Teesta water with Bangladesh and the issue of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Visit of the former NSA, Narayanan, to Colombo on 24 April 2009 was construed as requesting Colombo to defer the end game against LTTE till the voting in Tamil Nadu on 13 May. 

The US intelligence agency had knowledge of the Pakistan nuclear bomb project but ignored it since the USA had to depend on help from Pakistan for their war in Afghanistan. For reasons of realpolitik Pakistan continues to be a preferred partner of the West who ignores Pakistan’s sponsorship of terror acts. Our diplomats have to understand the importance of real-politic. The Western countries are guided by their own interests and not by justice for all.  

Friendly police committees can be a great help in promoting peace. The Citizens of Bandra, a Mumbai surbub, took commendable steps during the Christmas season to guard themselves. Delhi police should be accountable to the Chief Minister who is answerable to the people. Police reforms have often been talked about but not carried out. CBI needs to be free of political interference but it would be dangerous to give it constitutional status. Why should even small crimes like murder be made the responsibility of the CBI? A point missed is the need to restore the credibility of the Criminal Investigation (CID). 

Indira Gandhi was assassinated at about 0920 hours. Confusion prevailed due to the absence of a clear hierarchy. After consultations with all the senior ministers, Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister (PM). Even today, there is no designated hierarchy. The Army could move in only two battalions by evening and the GOC insisted on a magistrate accompanying the troops. It has not been clarified why more troops could not be rushed to Delhi. The brigade stationed in Delhi was not deployed, may be due to the class composition of the units. There was complete chaos. H. D. Pillia, DIG [security], had withdrawn the guards based on intelligence reports. He was punished and humiliated. None of his seniors who were party to the withdrawal of guards stood by him.   

India is facing armed revolt on economic, religious, regional and ethnic grounds. The Naxalite movement has spread to 143 districts. They have improved their weapons, forged external links and operate like an army. They have developed a harsh system of collecting revenue from traders and contractors. Political parties have drawn mileage from the Naxal and communal forces. The political leadership ignored participation by indigenous elements in jihad. It suited them to put the blame on Pakistan. Terrorism is borderless and unpredictable. The state governments are not able to take effective action since training of jihadis, purchase of explosives and location of terror acts may involve activities in more than one state. The police and judiciary may get intimidated and give up too easily. This problem must be tackled by Central forces and it is so in most of the countries in the world. The British campaign in Malaya after the World War II is a model for counter-insurgency operations. The Security Forces had a strength of twenty to one guerrilla and the villages were cordoned off to deny food to the rebels. A rehabilitation programme was launched for the rebels who surrendered. The major task was carried out by the Army. 

We have rightly taken a decision not to employ the Army which should be used only for short periods as was done for ensuring fair elections in West Bengal in 1971. We did try to isolate the rebels from the villagers in Mizoram but failed to provide adequate supply of food to the villagers. They broke the fences and ran away. Undertaking any half-way measures is worse than no action at all. The Red Army of Japan could board a plane in Mumbai to hijack it because of weak security. We all have experienced the difference between a thorough check of air passengers at airports at Colombo or Kabul compared to the patting at Mumbai. 

In spite of the previous experience of terrorists using sea transport for entering India, coastal security was neglected and we witnessed the massacre of a few hundred people in November 2008. Recently, the press reports revealed that the boats given to the police for patrolling the coastal waters have remained unutilized due to shortage of funds for fuel. This is not the complete story. Police are not at home on the high seas. Nor can effective surveillance be done by patrolling. As in other countries, this task is best carried out by relying on the people living on the coast who have intimate knowledge of the sea and people living on the coast. 
 
These are only some of the many issues dealt with by the author in this book which is a compilation of the author’s published works and lectured on different facets of our national security. Additionally the author has participated in decision making at the highest level on Intelligence and anti-terrorism policies. He has presented India’s viewpoints on terror activities at international conferences.

The book is a must read for professionals and students concerned with these issues. 
 
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Obituary

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Book Review

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