FAS | Intelligence | World Agencies | India ||||| Search | Join FAS

Intelligence Bureau (IB)

India's Central Intelligence Bureau (IB) is reputed to be the oldest intelligence agency in the world. In the past it was tasked with all intelligence targeting but in recent times it has focused on internal security. The IB is officially under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), but in practice the Director IB (DIB) is a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and Steering Committee and has the authority to brief the Prime Minister should the need arise, but intelligence inputs (at least in theory) go through the regular channels in the MHA to the JIC.

The collection mechanisms of the IB vary depending on the region, but the IB operates both at the state level and the national level. The bulk of the intelligence collection is carried out by `Grade II' employees of the IB, i.e. in increasing order of seniority; the Security Assistants (Constable), the Junior Intelligence Officers (Head Constable), the Asst. (Central) Intelligence Officer (Sub-Inspector), Deputy Central Intelligence Officers (Inspector), and Joint Central Intelligence Officers (Superintendent of Police). The `Class I'(gazette) officers carry out coordination and higher-level management the IB. These officers are (again in increasing order of seniority) Asst. Director, the Deputy Director, Joint Director, Addl. Director, Special Director or Special Secretary and finally the Director IB. Grade II officers are in part direct recruitment and officer deputed from state police forces, but Class I officers are mostly deputed from state services.

At the state level all IB officers are part of the State Special Bureau report to a Central Intelligence Officer (the intelligence advisor to the Governor). The IB maintains a large number of field units and headquarters (which are under the control of Joint or Deputy Directors). It is through these offices and the intricate process of deputation that a very `organic' linkage between the state police agencies and the IB is maintained. In addition to these at the national level the IB has several units (in some cases Subsidiary Intelligence Bureaus) to keep track of issues like terrorism, counter-intelligence, VIP security and threat assessment, and sensitive areas (i.e. J&K, North East Region (NER) etc...).

Some of the problems within the IB are briefly listed below:

1) There are problems regarding recruiting: in the past postings and deputations with the IB were regarded as positive career choices among police officers, and this led to a favorable buildup of expertise in the both state and national law enforcement circles. In more recent times, this has changed, state police forces offer far swifter means of promotion and career advancement, also the perks of state level police postings in some cases compare more favorably than those of a central posting. The result is that people have to be forcibly deputed to the IB. This is further compounded by the fact that IB postings often involve extremely hazardous duties in hostile populations. Thus some postings go unfilled and in some cases the IB gets very thinly stretched on the ground. This leads to gaps in intelligence collection.

2) In sensitive areas (ex. J&K. NER) the pace of security operations is very high. This means that the turnaround time between collection, collation and dissemination has to be very small. IB officers serve largely in advisory capacity and have to coordinate with the regular enforcement arms. To reduce the dead time in intelligence handling, today in most sensitive areas, the law enforcement arms (in most cases) are endowed with their own intelligence units. These units do varying amounts of intelligence targeting and are in theory supposed to coordinate with the IB, sometimes however, this coordination is not achieved and quite possibly another intelligence agency dominates leading to the loss of the `overall picture'.

3) The IB is Government of India's principal internal news agency. It is responsible for monitoring all aspects of governance. As an extension of this role, it routinely monitors the state governments and often draws up independent assessments of the security situation in a state and advises the Governor. At the central level the IB closely monitors developments relating to parliamentary affairs and reports back to the Cabinet Secretariat. The Special Enquiry and Surveillance unit (SES) of the IB handles most of this work. This task is vital in maintaining the stability of elected governments. However it can easily be subverted to achieve less savory aims, especially at the state level. Apart from any actual degradation in capacity, this kind of work breeds the impression in that the IB is purely a mechanism for targeting the opposition.

4) The IB is also tasked with Counter-Intelligence operations. This area of IB work has been the object of severe criticism and almost every internal disturbance is projected as a failure in counter-intelligence (there is always talk of the absence of specificity in threat assessments). Problems related to this part are discussed more extensively in the section on counter-intelligence issues.

The task forces have in all probability made several recommendations about these topics. The task force on Internal Security has stated the need to place emphasis on the position of the Secretary (MHA) and that all intelligence regarding internal security developments should be passed to him; this is appears to be an attempt to foster the functioning of the `Core Intelligence Processing Unit' in the MHA. The task force on Internal Security has also made clear the need to create dedicated `systems and procedures' of intelligence dissemination to aid in the conduct of counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations. It is also likely that the capabilities in the IB relating to counter-intelligence are being upgraded (this is discussed in greater detail in the section on Counter-Intelligence). The task force on internal security has also called for an end to political interference in the IB, it has suggested that a internal review and oversight body be set up in the IB to stamp out this sort of thing, but it is unclear to the author as to exactly how this mechanism will function.

Sources and Methods

FAS | Intelligence | World Agencies | India ||||| Search | Join FAS

Maintained by Steven Aftergood
Updated December 2006

[an error occurred while processing this directive]