I cannot remember the last time I was shocked by book picked up from a public library.
"India's External Intelligence - Secrets of RAW" by Maj.Gen V.K. Singh, is perhaps the most forthright, lucid, well-written book I have come across from an army officer. Shorn of all possible bombast and hyperbole I had come to expect from a retired fauji reminsing his glory days, the book offers a rare glimpse into the working of an agency that is, by its very nature, not meant to be seen or heard by the general public.
Anybody who has read news reports about the Kargil debacle knows that it was a case of too many spooks spoil the broth. With so many different agencies engaged in collecting intelligence and with each of them working in silos, we seem to have little time to make sense of all the data that is pouring in.
If that was not bad enough, Singh outlines that amazing flaws that have been built-in to our sarkari system when it comes to procurement of critical telecom equipment, of officers who have no qualms about spending public money on overpriced imported stuff, of eminent scientists delivering sub-standard products with an eye on the Padma awards rather than the concerns of the end-users, and of institutions that is compromised by officers who seek nothing more than a better education for their children in foreign universities.
The book potrays the human face of an agency that is controlled solely by the PMO. And the picture is quite disconcerting...
* Manas Publications - http://manaspublications.in/product/indias-external-intelligence-secrets-of-research-and-analysis-wing-raw/
* IntelliBriefs Blog - http://intellibriefs.blogspot.in/2007/07/indian-intelligence-why-top-officials.html