NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE MANAGEMENT by Vappala Balachandran
Indus Source Books, Mumbai
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.
The book is a collection of articles
and papers contributed by Mr. Balachandran, a
distinguished officer of the IPS cadre. He had
served in the Maharashtra Police for 17
years and in the Central foreign Intelligence for 19 years. He had 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 Kargil crisis,assassination of
Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and 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 war 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 need 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 USA, the NSC is an advisory body and is
staffed by professionals often drawn from outside. In USA,
lateral induction at senior level from outside is often done
even at the senior level 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 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) had 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 limited period which is not the 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 the “public interest”. Reports
of enquiry into major security lapses like the attack on
Taj Hotel remain 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
the phrase “need to know with the phrase “need to share.”
Under pressure from the Western countries, the
Ministry of External Affairs [MEA], attempted to change
India’s policy on the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Intervention by Dr Sethna at the behest of the author and
Kao 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 the augmenting
of the under-staffed diplomatic service. The difficulty arises
due to our diplomats giving priority to conferences than
to ground realities.
President Sadat of Egypt visited Israel in search
of peace and followed it up with talks in Camp David in
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
Freedom First December 2014 www.freedomfirst.in 29
bilateral relations without waiting for a solution of the
Kashmir problem. This approach ignores the vested
interests of the Army and the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan.
In a TV interview on 16 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 its 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 and follow
a peaceful path. A democratic government does not
necessarily give up hostile acts as we have seen in
Pakistan. The governments of Benazir Bhutto and Sharif
continued to follow wrong policies directed against India
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 of national
security, we have been guided by electoral interests in
West Bengal and Tamil Nadu regarding sharing the River
Teesta water with Bangladesh and the issue of Tamils in
Sri Lanka. Visits of 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
Pakistan’s nuclear bomb project but ignored it since USA
had to depend on help from Pakistan for the war in
Afghanistan.For reasons of realpolitik Pakistan continues
to be a preferred partner of the West ignoring Pakistan’s
sponsorship of terror acts. Our diplomats have to
understand the importance of realpolitik. 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 suburb
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 a 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
and confusion prevailed due to 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 Naxal and communal forces. The political
leadership ignored participation by indigenous elements
in jihads. 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 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 the 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 measures half way is worse than no action
at all. The Red Army of Japan boarded 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 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, 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 coastal people who have an
intimate knowledge of the sea and people living on the
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
The book is a must read for professionals and
students concerned with these issues.