Rameshwar Nath Kao: First chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)


Rameshwar Nath Kao (10 May 1918 – 20 January 2002) was the first chief of India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) from its founding in 1969 to 1977 and helped in building R&AW.

Kao was born in the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on 10 May 1918 to a Kashmiri Pandit family who immigrated from Srinagar district.

After an intelligence hiccup of unable to predict the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and Operation Gibraltar of 1965, the Indian polity felt the need to establish a separate organisation for gathering intelligence for military purposes. Kao was handpicked by Jawaharlal Nehru himself, who knew him well, from his years as Nehru's Head of Personal Security.

Kao also founded the Aviation Research Centre (ARC) at Charbatia,Orissa on his return from Ghana and subsequently the Joint Intelligence Committee.

In 1968, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who had then also begun tightening her grip on the Congress party, bifurcated the Intelligence Bureau to form the Research and Analysis Wing. The IB would be involved in domestic intelligence gathering, while the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) was created as India's primary external intelligence agency. Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) objective was to monitor the world in general and South Asia in particular.

The French intelligence chief once called him 'one of the most able spymasters of his era'.

Kao can also largely be credited for merging Sikkim into India in 1975 as its 22nd state.

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