Kao, the founder of R&AW (Research and Analysis Wing), passed away in the early
hours of January 20, 2002. He was survived by his wife, Mrs Malini Kao, and
daughter, Mrs Achla Kaul. After BN Mallick, he was the biggest name in the
find a parallel in the Raj days one would have to go back to Col. Sleeman of
anti-Thungee fame. (In the 1830s, Sleeman was the first to float the idea of a
specialized intelligence unit for the country).
Rameshwar Nath Kao, Raji to friends, joined the Indian Police (IP) in 1940, and
was allotted the UP cadre. A post-graduate in literature, he found himself in
the Police Training College, Moradabad, where he was uncomfortable with his
British conferes, who had merely written their Senior Cambridge exams and were
too boisterous and crude for his liking. Always dressed immaculately, he had a
fetish for cleanliness. He came away on deputation to the Intelligence Bureau
just before 1947 and set up camp for the rest of his illustrious career.
deputed to jointly investigate (along with the Chinese and the British) the
crash of the “Kashmir Princess” just before the Bandung Conference of 1956. The
plane was carrying Chinese delegates to the conference. Fortunately, the
delegation leader, PM Chou en Lai, was not on board. It is generally known that
there was considerable pressure from the Chinese side to involve the KMT
government, a pressure he withstood.
1963, he took over as the founding director of the Air Research Centre (ARC).
Five years later, he broke from the IB, forming, with Indira Gandhi’s blessings
the Research and Analysis Wing, better known by its shadows sobriquet, RAW. With
the Samyukt Vidhayak Dal brand of no-holds-barred politics surfacing in 1967,
the IB could not pay sufficient attention to external intelligence. He and
Sankaran Nair (“Shanks”) organised the outfit meticulously, burning midnight oil
and going into every micro detail.
the unrest in East Pakistan and the 1971 war came his finest hour. The R&AW and
the Directorate General Security, also under him, played stellar roles in the
Janata Government eyed him suspiciously but never found anything against him or
the R&AW. (The IB, cleverer by far, got away unscathed). With Mrs Gandhi’s
return in 1980 Kao came back as special adviser to the Cabinet, overseeing both
IB and R&AW and coming closest to the position of an intelligence czar. He was
the first to float the idea of a special security unit for the PM.
got on famously with colleagues of other services. He never threw rank or his
powerful connections at them. He helped those in distress and sometimes people
took advantage of this attribute of his. Suave and polite to a fault, he was
never known to raise his voice. Tall and pale, with a prominent Roman nose, he
was a striking figure. But those who have worked with him will remember him for
his kindness and generosity. He will be sorely missed.
(Sh. S.N. Daruwalla is former Chairman Joint Intelligence Committee)