Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)

In this article, you will read about the formation of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) with its functions and objectives.

What Is RAW?

The Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW, is India’s primary foreign intelligence agency. The primary function of the RAW is to gather foreign intelligence, engage in counter-terrorism, promote counter-proliferation, etc. It ranks among the top five secret agencies in the world, along with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA; Military Intelligence, Section 16 (MI 16) of the UK; Mossad of Israel; and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) of Australia.

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Rameshwar Nath Kao is the founding father of the RAW. He is also regarded as one of the best spymasters.

History Before RAW

Before the formation of RAW, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), established by the British government, was responsible for gathering internal and external affairs of India.

The British government established the Indian Political Intelligence Office in 1909 in England to track revolutionary activities. In 1921, the Indian Political Intelligence Office was renamed Indian Political Intelligence (IPI). Its main objective was to gather intelligence with the help of Indian officials and other foreign secret agencies.

By the 1930s, the British government expanded the scope of IPI to gather intelligence beyond the Indian borders. However, after Indian independence in 1947, the IPI was renamed the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

IB worked under the Home Ministry of India, and Sanjeev Pillai was its first Indian Director. The scope of IB was, however, restricted within Indian borders.

After independence, Intelligence Bureau experienced a severe increase in the human resource crisis. As a result, Sanjeev Pillai reorganised IB on the lines of the British Domestic Intelligence Agency, M15. However, this failed.

After the Sino-Indian war in 1962, the then Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru realised that IB was incapable of this task and that specialised foreign intelligence was required to counter the growing threats to Indian borders.

Finally, the idea of a different foreign intelligence agency started to take shape around the end of 1966.

Formation of RAW

Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was established under the supervision of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in 1968. RN Kao was appointed the first RAW chief and led the agency until he retired in 1977. RAW provided intelligence assistance, which led to several successful operations in India, such as the establishment of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistan’s defeat in the Kargil conflict in 1971, Sikkim’s accession in 1975, and an increase in India’s support for Afghanistan.

Unlike other secret agencies of different countries, the RAW chief directly reports to the Prime Minister of India. Moreover, the RAW chief is a designated secretary in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Secretariat.

RAW is headquartered in New Delhi, India.

Functions and Objectives of RAW

The main objectives of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) include:

  • Through covert and overt operations, checking the political, military, economic, and scientific developments in nations directly affecting India’s national security.
  • Keeping track of terrorist groups and the smuggling networks that bring weapons and ammunition into India.
  • Covert operations to protect the national interests of India.
  • Undergoing anti-terror operations and eliminating threats to India.

RAW’s Founding Father

Rameshwar Nath Kao, also known as RN Kao, is the founding father of RAW. He was the first Director of the RAW. He was born in May 1918 in Varanasi and was selected for Indian Police Intelligence in 1940. In 1947, he was appointed as the Intelligence Bureau’s (IB) assistant director. RN Kao was chosen to serve as RAW’s first director when Indira Gandhi led the foundation of the secret spy agency on the model of the CIA and M16 to handle India’s foreign affairs in 1968. He led the RAW until his retirement in 1977.

RN Kao played a crucial role in the Bangladesh liberation war and the merger of Sikkim.

Subhashini Parihar
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