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Home > News > Specials

The Rediff Special/ Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi

Major shake-up in India's intelligence apparatus

March 25, 2006

National security Advisor M K Narayanan has revived the Joint Intelligence Committee, which was merged with the National Security Council Secretariat in 1999.

The move, a major initiative by Narayanan, means the government of India needs more input and a long-term assessment on important policy matters concerning national security.

Dr S D Pradhan, Special Secretary, NSCS, has been promoted as secretary and appointed as the chairman of the revived JIC.He reaches the age of superannuating on June 30 this year but according to sources, he has been given a two-year tenure as the JIC chairman.

Pradhan, although low profile, is a highly experienced academic. He joined the political division of the India's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing in the 1970s, when R N Kao was heading it. The task of the political division was to make long-term assessments based on open information. The officers of the political division did not have access to secret intelligence collected by the RAW's field operatives.

When Morarji Desai became the prime minister in 1977, he ordered a drastic cut in the RAW budget. N F Suntook, the then chief of the RAW, abolished the political division and Pradhan went back to the academic world.

It is interesting to note that in 1989, Narayanan was removed from the post of director, Intelligence Bureau by then Prime Minister V P Singh because Narayanan was considered close to Rajiv Gandhi and his family.

After his unceremonious removal from the IB, Narayanan was posted as the JIC chairman.

At that time, Narayanan inducted Pradhan into the JIC and he has steadily climbed up the ladder since then. Pradhan was always considered close to Narayanan.

The post of chairman, JIC used to be held in the past either by senior intelligence analysts of the IB or RAW or other acknowledged strategic analysts. Among past JIC chairmen were N F Suntook, who went to the JIC from RAW and then went back to RAW. When Morarji Desai became the prime minister Suntook was made RAW chief.

K Subramanyam, strategic analyst and Keki Daruwala from the RAW and D C Pathak, former director, IB have also been its chief.
Daruwala, who was heading JIC from 1993 to 1995, told rediff.com, "I welcome this step. I hope there is not any duplication in the process."

After Pathak retired in 1996, the army put forward its claim for one of its officers to be appointed as JIC chairman. I K Gujral, who became prime minister in 1997, was keen to accept the army's demand, but the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service lobbies were strongly opposed to it. As a result, for more than two years, the post remained vacant and the secretary, RAW was asked to hold additional charge as JIC chairman.

The Kargil Review Committee, headed by K Subramanyam, which went into allegations of intelligence failure highlighted the fact that such an important post was kept vacant for more than two years, resulting in the neglect of analysis and assessment of available intelligence.

Subramanyam, told rediff.com, "It's a good decision to revive the JIC. I don't fear there will be any duplication of work because the JIC and DNSA are doing different kind of work. But I wish that JIC will be given appropriate staff strength to function effectively."

In 1999, the BJP-led government created the National Security Council and the NSCS to service it. Brajesh Mishra, then principal secretary to the prime minister, was also concurrently made the National Security Adviser. The JIC was merged with the NSCS.

The Special Task Force for the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus, headed by G C Saxena, former RAW chief, had in October 2000 recommended the revival of the JIC in order to pay better attention to the analysis and assessment of collected intelligence.

B Raman, one of the members of the Saxena Committee, told rediff.com, "It will be a good decision (to revive JIC) provided it will be allowed to operate independently and is not used to provide assessment to support policy already decided by the government."
M K Narayanan was also a member of that task force.

The BJP-led government did not implement this recommendation made by the Saxena committee.

Now, M K Narayanan has persuaded the present government to implement it. As NSA, Narayanan will now have two officers of secretary's rank assisting him -- the Deputy National Security Adviser and the chairman, JIC.

Vijay Nambiar, a retired China and Pakistan expert from the Indian Foreign Service, who was appointed the DNSA after Narayanan took over as NSA after the death of J N Dixit in January 2005, is going to the UN as an advisor to the UN Secretary-General. His successor as DNSA is still to be nominated.


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