Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane

The friend who published this book was kind enough to send me a copy of it. It arrived last week, and I read it as quickly as I could. Then I allowed a few days for my thoughts to settle and today finally I decided to pen down what came to mind.

A trip into the pensieve
(with apologies to J. K. Rowling)

As you all know the agency is turning 40 next year, and so some introspection is natural and even healthy. Others can publish institutional histories or "Vision-2020" documents or even websites with lots of jpegs and mpegs. In this way they can have a debate on their needs, expectations, aspirations and so on. The agency is bound to a silent service and so such actions are impossible. This creates an (albeit artificial) obstacle to debate and makes any introspection difficult and that can't be good.

Ultimately, what is history? Setting aside the pretence of objectivity, etc... in the final cut, it is the reminicenses of the people that lived through it. If a few people publish their memiors, however candid they may be, we automatically gain a sense of history. It is true, that ultimately nothing is secret, it all comes out in the end. And newspapers do exactly that, they bring us the information but lacking a perspective, we are left wanting. A sense of history help us develops our perspective.

The business of the agency, I am afraid is rather complicated. Everything has to be adjusted to political taste and fashion. What is salacious gossip one day, is prime product on another. How does the eye discern? how do we know what to keep and what to lose? - this is the question that confronts the professional. A candid discussion may seem scandalously amusing to the untrained ear, but to those in the business, this is a matter-of-fact affair, after all it is their profession to handle information others cannot be bothered with.

So much of ones' life is conflict. History is littered with it, so why should one man's memory be any different? The squabbles, the odd scrapes, and the scratches, all perfectly normal - perfectly human. Sure in theory - we would all live perfect lives without it, but can a frictionless state truly exist? I don't think so . Friction is the human condition, so why focus on it to the exclusion of everything else? - this is reality - and I know I am asking a lot, but just accept it.

We all know that to err is human, and yet how many of us have the ability to own up to our errors in public? Surely in this dog-eat-god world, admitting an error would be death? And yet this memior freely admits to errors made in the past and deficiencies in the present. Despite all the negativity that comes from admitting error, a tremendously positive feeling also appears. Once the demons in the past are confronted the way of the future lights up.

In 1999 the blame for Kargil fell at the agency's door, and a lot of the euphoria that was felt after the Buddha Jayanti of 1998 vanished. Folks like me were left religiously clutching our copies of Asoke Raina's book, wondering if the dark rumours of knives being driven deep were indeed true. After all nothing is impossible and one never truly knows.

From the memoir it appears as if the moment of uncertainity passed and something quite confident and enthusiastic emerged from all the darkness. The calm and reassuring tones heard in those days now make sense.

So what can we say in summation?

Well as it is obvious, we are now playing in a much bigger field and our resources have just barely kept a pace with our needs. It is all good and fine to say we need to gather more information, but how do we ensure that what we gather is useful? can we at least search it? can we store it? can we interpret it? These are not easy questions to answer.

The memoir is predictably silent on all these - after all it is only a memior - a trip through a pensieve. I have asked the questions that come from perusing the imagery from an age gone by... the search for answers now begins.


At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The agency"


At 4:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Article.

I think u have a flair for writing.

You could help []this forum[/url] since they a need a person who can write articles for their online magazine.

Thank you,

RAW Agent of IDF.

At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You telling ABV to go till the land? I suspect Mavrik have been there done that.

Maverick: Kudos to you, pls continue the mission. India needs many people of you kind.

Cheers & Jai Hind.
-Aks Shambhu

At 6:00 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Thank you for all the praise, but I remain a very humble and happy nobody.


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