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Overawed by RAW

R. Sreekumar

By Asoka Raina
Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1981, pp. 114, Rs. 35.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 3 November/December 1980

The introductory chapter of this book starts with a comparison—no other intelligence organization has been subject­ed to such tumultous criticism as RAW in such a short span of its existence. Having thus elevated his subject, the author states the purpose: ‘A flood of 'misinformation' has poured out to the public ... giving a distorted picture.’ So Asoka Raina, who pursued a man-eater in the Garhwal hills and trekked in the Chambal ravines to meet the dacoits, sets out, this time, to inform the public the truth about RAW. RAW is indeed tumultous. In the melee of slapping and counter­-slapping, and noise of stringent actions, successes seem a far cry. ‘No govern­ment, not even our own (Why, is our government a no-government?), will tole­rate for long a costly agency that has more failures than successes’. Right now, men of India's Foreign Intelligence Agency, of the Cabinet Secretariat, are busy shouting slogans, besides dharna, gherao and satyagraha. The author says that he could not have put more aptly what his ten-year old son remarked to a friend: ‘My father is writing about RAW. It is a spy story which the adults don't seem to understand and he is trying to make them see what it is all about.’ It's gener­ation gap. Adults just do not seem to understand what kids are upto. Through Sun Tzu whose ‘Principles of War’ is regarded the earliest docu­ment on war and espionage, and Kauti­lya's Arthasasthra, Raina puts us on to the ‘Beginning’ of RAW: Ghana-return­ed Kao and Sankaran Nair build it all up from scratch. Then we have the special ops and other stories. The emer­gence of Bangladesh is portrayed lavishly, the role of RA W in it being also lavish (the people of that country seem to have had no role). Grand success story, that. While history goes thus, the only relief for the yawning 'public' comes in the form of a comic interlude, the Morarji-Sankaran Nair confrontation: With saintly Desai's 'nothing to do with immoral things' attitude (though his RAW-arranged meeting with Moshe Dayan was strictly moral) and the need for India's Foreign Intelligence Agency being a subject quite 'phoren' to the moral visionary, Nair's was an exercise in futility, trying to drive home such a point. Raina is so desperate to convince the reader about RAW's non-involvement in internal espionage that he frantically quotes ...

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