Locating India’s Intelligence Agencies in A Democratic Framework

Title:                      Locating India’s Intelligence Agencies in A Democratic Framework

Author:                 Danish Sheikh

Sheikh, Danish (2011). Locating India’s Intelligence Agencies in A Democratic Framework. New Delhi : Observer Research Foundation : KW Publishers

LCCN:    2011351784

JQ229.I6 S54 2011


Date Posted:      March 9, 2016

Reviewed by Hayden Peake.[1]

India has three intelligence agencies. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is responsible for domestic security and reports to the home minister. The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) carries out the foreign intelligence mission and reports to the prime minister. The National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) conducts SIGINT operations and reports to the national security advisor. At present, the agencies function without a statutory charter. Danish Sheikh, a lawyer with the Alternative Law Forum, argues in this short monograph that there have been “lapses of efficiency, of security, of privacy” (p. 3) that justify establishing parliamentary oversight.

Sheikh supports his argument, in part, with a lengthy discussion of a wiretapping expose. (pp. 7-11) He later asserts that “India has witnessed considerable misuse of intelligence service apparatus.” (p. 42) On a related issue, he recommends “some form of whistle-blower protection.” (pp. 9-11) He also suggests that a charter would help the agencies with budgetary issues. In all instances, however, he is short on specifics. After some warnings about the hazards of politicization, he compares the oversight systems in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia to make his case for parliamentary oversight. (pp. 34ff) In the end, while he has defined the problem well enough, he presents little evidence that the current system is in need of the major overhaul he recommends, though in principle the need for oversight of intelligence is generally accepted.

[1] Hayden Peake is a frequent reviewer of books on intelligence and this review appeared in The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies (19, 1, Winter/Spring, 2013, pp. 126-127). Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Di recto rate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence. These and many other reviews and articles may be found on line at http://www.cia.gov.

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