India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), has long faced allegations of meddling in its neighbors’ affairs. Formed in 1968, primarily to counter China’s influence, over time it has shifted its focus to India’s other traditional rival, Pakistan. RAW and Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have been engaged in covert operations against one other for over 30 years. The ongoing dispute in Kashmir continues to fuel these clashes, but experts say Afghanistan may be emerging as the new battleground. Islamabad sees India’s growing diplomatic initiatives in Afghanistan as a cover for RAW agents working to destabilize Pakistan. It accuses RAW of training and arming separatists in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province with the Afghan border. RAW denies these charges, and in turn, accuses the ISI of the July 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.
The present R&AW objectives include:
- Monitoring the political, military, economic and scientific developments in countries which have a direct bearing on India’s national security and the evaluation of its foreign policy.
- Moulding international public opinion and influence foreign governments with the assist of the strong and vibrant Indian diaspora.
- Change Operations to safeguard India’s National interests.
- Anti – Terror Operations and neutralizing terror elements posing a threat to the country.
In the past, following the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and due to India’s volatile relations with Pakistan, R&AW’s objectives had also consisted of the following:
- To observe the development of international communism and the schism between the two big communist nations, the Soviet Union and China.
- To control and limit the supply of military hardware to Pakistan, from mostly European countries, America and more necessarily from China.
Initially, R&AW relied primarily on trained intelligence officers who were recruited directly. These belonged to the external wing of the Intelligence Bureau. In times of great expansion, many candidates were taken from the Indian Armed Forces, Police(IPS) and the Officers of Indian Revenue Service (IRS). Later, R&AW began directly selecting graduates from universities.
However, owing to allegations of nepotism in appointments, in 1983 R&AW formed its own service cadre, the Research and Analysis Service (RAS) to absorb talent from other Group A Civil Services, under the Central Staffing Scheme. Direct recruitment at Class I executive level is from Civil services officers undergoing Foundation course at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration. At the end of the course, R&AW conducts a campus interview.
Based on a selection of psychological tests and the interview, candidates are inducted into R&AW for a lien period of one year. In this period, they have an option of rejoining their parent service (if they wish to) after which they can be permanently absorbed into the Research and Analysis Service. Delhi-based security think tank Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses noted in one of its reports that R&AW suffered from the ‘tail-end syndrome’ where the ‘bottom of the entrance lists’ of those qualifying the UPSC examinations was offered jobs.
In addition to this recruitment is also by a lateral deputation from the Officer corps of Armed Forces or Group A Civil Service Officers. The Civil and Defence Service Officers permanently resign their cadre and join the RAS. However, according to recent reports, officers can return to their parent cadre after serving a specific period in the agency if they wish to. Most of the secretaries have been officers from the IPS and other posts are held by IRS and IFS officers. R&AW also employs a number of linguists and other experts in several fields. The service termsof R&AW officers are governed by the Research and Analysis Wing (Recruitment, Cadre, and Service) Rules, 1975.