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R&AW Founder Perfectly Blended Intelligence With Strategic Objectives

Rameshwar Nath Kao, or RN Kao, would have been 106 years old today. The founder of Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)—India’s external intelligence agency—was an intensely private person, deeply religious and equally compassionate.

He had the ability to see the larger picture and also pay attention to the minutest of detail, says Ramanathan Kumar, former Special Secretary, R&AW.

“Often in the intelligence business, even the best of spymasters at times tend to develop tunnel vision and get into microscopic details, which is very important of course, without seeing the larger picture. But Mr Kao had the rare ability to understand the larger picture and its importance to the political leadership of the country. He would also ensure that the finest of details were taken care of when it came to conducting operations,” Kumar told StratNews Global Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale.

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Kao was extremely fastidious when it came to analysis and disseminating notes to the government. He would correct the drafts put up by his subordinates, even the best of them, with the finest a fine tooth comb, adds Kumar.

And when it came to R&AW operations, Kao was a man of tremendous discretion, tact and caution. “There was nothing reckless about Mr Kao. He was not a Rambo kind of operative. Every action of his was preceded by a very careful and methodical examination of the pros and cons.”

Kao had the knack of harmonising intelligence goals with the larger political or strategic objectives. “Mr Kao had a very fine political antenna. Therefore, he made sure that the operational initiatives R&AW took were in perfect harmony with the larger strategic and political objectives that the political leadership had in mind at that point in time,” says Kumar.

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Nitin A. Gokhale is a media entrepreneur, one of South Asia's leading strategic affairs analyst and author of over a dozen books so far on military history, insurgencies and wars. Starting his career in journalism in 1983, he has since led teams of journalists across media platforms. A specialist in conflict coverage, Gokhale has covered the insurgencies in India’s North-East, the 1999 Kargil conflict and Sri Lanka’s Eelam War IV between 2006-2009. Gokhale now travels across the globe to speak at seminars and conferences, and lecture at India’s premier defence colleges. He has founded three niche portals, Bharatshakti.in, StratNewsGlobal.com (stratnewsglobal.com) and Interstellar.news