The organic cosmology of the Indian intelligence structure and its related disciplinary constituents as well as the efficaciousness of their interplay to meet existing and emerging challenges to Indian security need to be comprehended and acted upon through prudent recasting. The crux of good intelligence is data protection, which is premised on access to an independent intelligence grid that extends to economic intelligence as well.
The external and internal components of the Indian intelligence order—Research& Analysis Wing and Intelligence Bureau—have over the years reacted commensurately to cope with the needs of national security. However, the rapid change in the index of internal political stability factor within India as well as the deteriorating indices of the global economy impose on the ‘intelligence cosmology’ an entirely different set of challenges. These are incomprehensible and not easy to grapple with. A structural weakness in the extant frame of national intelligence exposes certain vulnerability in the overall system arising out of the non-existence of a dedicated national economic intelligence agency in the country. This is a major gap waiting to be filled.
As the ongoing global economic meltdown eases a little bit, India’s political and economic relations with the US seem slanting downwards on a negative sternway of sorts. Consequently, New Delhi’s economic counter-measures in respect to the world’s largest economy and the Eurozone remain weak and tentative.
It is in this backdrop that the flailing and deteriorating Indo-Italian diplomatic ties have come to fore. Italy got increasingly stubborn over the delay in legal processes in the trial of two Italian sailors and the cancellation of AgustaWestland’s VVIP helicopter deal. The differences over perceived impropriety by India further queered the pitch and Italy resorted to a damaging anti-India tirade, terming it as “unreliable and untrustworthy”.
The absence of prudent economic intelligence evaluations also continues to be felt in the context of India’s virtual ‘involuntary economic integration’ with the massive Chinese economy. In the initial stages, this took place through invasive practices facilitating entry of cheap Chinese goods into Indian contours. This was envisaged without any clear understanding of officially sponsored Chinese suppliers. Having tasted success in the highly quality-insensitive Indian markets, a conscious game-plan thereafter ensued. The endgame is the encirclement of India’s ‘strategic domains’, including telecommunication space, national railways and electronic goods segment, then played out in an air of automacity amid use of means, fair or foul. The third stage of such intrusive economic spread contemplated by Beijing is the targeting of the highly sensitive ‘Indian critical infrastructural arena’, which hopefully New Delhi would resist overtly and compositely arising out of considerations of national security.
Thus, the absence of a national economic analysis compact, apart from R&AW and IB, both professionally adept at generating and dealing with political and terror-related intelligence, continues to be sorely felt. India’s manifest inability to detect and prevent large-scale counterfeiting of high value and systemic smuggling into India through the porous Indo-Nepal and other routes emanating from South-East Asia further underscores profound deficiency in India’s intelligence stratagems.
It is high time that India creates a totally ‘failsafe’ economic intelligence modular agency with a national charter, preferably under the watch of PMO, for effectively countering major national economic security threats.
One does not have to be clairvoyant to inscribe that a fault-free processing of people-level intelligence in today’s context is a formidable challenge that Indian statecraft has to cope with. The requisite dynamics of response would continue to be tardy if India persists with the colonial style of ‘modular police station’ as the sole repository for the ‘critical first response’.
The formulation of executive strategy, premised on useful intelligence generation through a renewal of the “hub concept” would give better results. An appropriately supervised police hub should be constituted of four to five police stations and assisted by armed and civil police reserves, modern technology and logistics support.
There have been repetitive intelligence generation and comprehension failures at different levels of late. This can be noticeably seen in the context of the rising crimes against women, attacks against students and youth of the north-eastern states in some major Indian cities. Systematic violence against the police in the Naxal-affected zones and the explicit predominance of khap panchayats over established legal order in some areas of the country also underline this.
Structurally, India appears to be in dire need of new security strategy, intelligence evaluation methods and action response methodologies. It is time the government adopted an innovative and people-oriented organic cosmology with seamless institutional coordinates and linkages.