Is R&AW dreaded or dreadful, effective or affectlessly irrelevant, a proactive shaper of India’s history and foreign policy or a bumbling reactionary force? As R&AW turns 50 today, it is worth investigating its past in search of an answer. Like everything else about it, R&AW’s origin is shrouded in mystery.
This column is not to recount R N Kao’s successes or failures; he saw both in good measures. For despite the paucity, there have been some books both by his colleagues and some by later spies, one of whom had the good sense of recording him for posterity. Instead, this column is just to inspire us Indians – in a world where history is being slaughtered daily - to study our gradually eroding past.
When Mrs Indira Gandhi again became Prime Minister in 1980, she recalled Kao from his retirement and appointed him as her senior advisor on internal and external developments. She used to consult him on political and intelligence matters. His professional guidance was of general nature. In one major development, when Mrs Gandhi wanted to go USA she was not getting her choice of appointment date with the US President through External Affairs Ministry channels. Kao through his friend George Bush Senior – who was then US Ambassador in China – arranged her meeting with the US President.