India has a variety of intelligence agencies. Though not in the same league as the USA which has hundreds of agencies, there were many I had never heard of until I made a concerted effort to check for them. What is more disturbing is that none of these have been set up by any law. Most of them are completely free of any oversight by Parliament. This in itself has serious implications.
Listed below are the main intelligence agencies operating in India:
Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)
The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) of the government of India analyzes intelligence data from the Intelligence Bureau and the RAW, Directorate of Military Intelligence, Directorate of Naval Intelligence, Directorate of Air Intelligence. JIC has its own secretariat that is under the Cabinet Secretariat.
Research and Analysis Wing [RAW]
The Cabinet Secretariat Research and Analysis Wing [RAW], India’s most powerful intelligence agency, is India’s external intelligence agency. RAW has become an effective instrument of India’s national power, and has assumed a significant role in formulating India’s domestic and foreign policies.
Intelligence Bureau (IB)
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is the Indian government’s domestic intelligence agency, and reputedly the world’s oldest intelligence agency. It is rather difficult to ascertain what the IB does, since its operations are outside the purview of audit or inquiry. In addition to domestic intelligence responsibilities, the IB is particularly tasked with intelligence collection in border areas, following the 1951 recommendations of the Himmatsinhji Committee (also known as the North and North-East Border Committee), a task entrusted to military intelligence organizations prior to independence in 1947. The IB was also tasked with other external intelligence responsibilities as of 1951.
Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA)
The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) was created in March 2002. The new agency combines the intelligence networks of all three armed services of India (Army, Navy, and Air Force) and is the product of long-standing demands by the armed forces for such an organization and the recommendation of the Group of Ministers’s report investigating the intelligence failures leading to the Kargil incident of 1999.
Joint Cipher Bureau
The inter-services Joint Cipher Bureau has primary responsibility for cryptology and SIGINT, providing coordination and direction to the other military service organisations with similar mission. Most current equipment providing tactical intelligence is of Russian origin, including specialised direction finding and monitoring equipment.
Economic Intelligence Council
In order to facilitate coordination amongst the Enforcement Agencies dealing with economic offences and ensure operational coordination amongst them, a two tier system has been established by the Government of India with an Economic Intelligence Council at the Centre under the Chairmanship of Union Minister Finance, and 18 Regional Economic Intelligence Committees at different places in India.
Central Economic Intelligence Bureau
It is well recognised that the evasion of one tax usually entails evasion of other taxes as well. For the purpose of effective information gathering, collation and dissemination, a close co-ordination between the Agencies enforcing different tax laws is essential.
Hence, the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau was set up with the intention of creating a body which would coordinate and strengthen the intelligence gathering activities as well as investigative efforts of all the Agencies which enforce economic laws.
Army Directorate of Military Intelligence
India’s military intelligence traces its origins to the appointment in 1885 of Maj. Gen. Sir Charles MacGregor as head of the Intelligence Department of the British Indian Army. Headquartered in Simla, the Department was primarily tasked collection and analysis of intelligence relating to Russian troop dispositions in Central Asia. The departure of the British in 1947 marked the low point, as the British left behind very little in the way of assets or infractructure for the Intelligence Corps of the newly independent India.
Through the 1960s Military Intelligence was largely focused on field security services rather than external intelligence collection. Responsibilities primarily consisted of policing the army, rooting out corruption and misuse of facilities and equipment by Army personnel. Subsequently the increasing deployment of Army units in support of civil authorities has led Military Intelligence to focus on counter-insurgency operations.
Special Security Bureau
The Special Security Bureau is unique, as it is both an intelligence agency and also a specialized commando organization for behind enemy line operations. Its strength is currently about two battalions.
Directorate of Air Intelligence
Air Force intelligence responsibilities include imagery intelligence collection MiG-25R and Jaguar recconnaissance aircraft. During the 1971 war with Pakistan, Russian satellite imagery provided India with information on Chinese force deployments. And with advances in the Indian space program, the Indian Air Force will be acquiring independent space-based imagery intelligence capabilities.
The Navy Directorate of Signal Intelligence can intercept signals by means of communication equipment. Intercepts are routed through the Director of Naval Operations/Director of Naval Signals as part of operational tasking.