Table of Contents

   A spy and a gentleman
   Doyen of Indian intelligence
   Czar of India's Counter
   Life and Times of R.N. Kao
   The Legend Called RN Kao
   RN Kao's World View
   RN Kao's Major Feats

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Kao, the doyen of Indian intelligence

by K.N. Daruwalla

RN 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 Indian intelligence.

To 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.

He was 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.

In 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.

With 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 whole affair.

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.

Kao 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)

Source: Kashmir Sentinel



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