1st Edition

India’s Intelligence Culture and Strategic Surprises Spying for South Block

By Dheeraj Chaya Copyright 2023
    306 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    306 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines India’s foreign intelligence culture and strategic surprises in the 20th century.

    The work looks at whether there is a distinct way in which India ‘thinks about’ and ‘does’ intelligence, and, by extension, whether this affects the prospects of it being surprised. Drawing on a combination of archival data, secondary source information and interviews with members of the Indian security and intelligence community, the book provides a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of Indian intelligence culture from the ancient period to colonial times and, subsequently, the post-colonial era. This evolutionary culture has played a significant role in explaining the India’s foreign intelligence failure during the occurrences of strategic surprises, such as the 1962 Sino-Indian War and the 1999 Kargil War, while it successfully prepared for surprise attacks like Operation Chenghiz Khan by Pakistan in 1971. The result is that the book argues that the strategic culture of a nation and its interplay with intelligence organisations and operations is important to understanding the conditions for intelligence failures and strategic surprises.

    This book will be of much interest to students of intelligence studies, strategic studies, Asian politics and International Relations.


    Part I: India’s Foreign Intelligence and Strategic Surprises 

    1. Contextualising Intelligence Culture and Strategic Surprises 

    Part II: The Evolution of India’s Intelligence Culture 

    2. Kautilya’s Discourse on Secret Intelligence in the Arthashastra 

    3. From the Kautilyan State to the Colonial State: Transmogrification of the Ideas and Operations of Intelligence 

    4. The Birth of Post-Colonial Indian Intelligence Culture 

    Part III: Case Studies of India’s Wars 

    5. The Intelligence Bureau and the 1962 War: Between Mao’s Deception and Nehru’s Wishful Thinking 

    6. Indian Intelligence and the 1971 Indo-Pak War: The Epic of a Successful Detection and Counter-Surprise 

    7. Surprise on the Kargil Hilltops: Prognostication of the Irrational 

    Part IV: Indian Intelligence Culture in Perspective 

    8. Indian Intelligence Culture: An Articulation 

    9. Culture of Ad-hocism: Moving Beyond the Orthodox-Revisionist Dichotomy 

    Epilogue: Bring Back the Kautilyan State


    Dheeraj Paramesha Chaya is Assistant Professor, Department of Geopolitics and IR, Manipal Academy of Higher Education [MAHE], India. He has a PhD in Intelligence Studies from Leicester University, UK.

    * Winner of the 2024 Kjetil Hatlebrekke Memorial Book Prize, King's College London* 

    'This impressive book adds significantly to the intelligence literature by providing a detailed analysis of Indian intelligence culture and using this as a framework to explain the Indian experience with strategic surprise. It is a landmark work that expands the horizons of academic Intelligence Studies.'

    Mark Phythian, Professor of Politics, University of Leicester

    'In recent years, scholars of intelligence have finally started to sail outside of their sea lane by studying intelligence and security agencies beyond the Anglosphere and Europe. The latest author to make their mark is Dr Dheeraj Paramesha Chaya. Dr Chaya's book is a brilliant discussion of India’s foreign intelligence culture from the colonial era to the present day. Packed with detailed research on the reasons for strategic surprise, the book is an important contribution to the study of intelligence.'   

    Christopher R. Moran, Professor of US National Security, University of Warwick

    'Dr Chaya’s volume is an exceptionally important contribution to the scholarship on intelligence. It provides an exemplar fusion of Western conceptual literature on intelligence with both India’s own conceptual traditional precedents on intelligence as well as that nation’s practical, contemporary experience of intelligence as a core state function and as a profession. It provides an excellent demonstration of the kind of work that can be done, and that needs to be done.'

    Philip H.J. Davies, Professor, Intelligence Studies and Director, Brunel Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies (BCISS), Brunel University

    'It is hard to overstate the significance of this book for India, and for all those trying to understand that crucially important country. It is an unblinking, meticulously researched, in-depth examination of more than two thousand years of India's underappreciated intelligence culture, starting with the seminal Arthashastra - a work of such sophistication that it makes The Art of War look like a children's book. This is not abstract study, it has the intellectual courage to test its finding in some of India's most sensitive real-world conflicts. It is a uniquely valuable book that will spawn new fields of study for years to come.'

    Cleo Paskal, Associate Fellow, Chatham House

    'Within the canon of intelligence studies, India’s Intelligence Culture and Strategic Surprises does two incredibly valuable things. It firstly opens up the black box of the Indian intelligence machine, something that has – hitherto – been a significant absence from the intelligence studies literature. Secondly it provides an authentic voice on Indian security concerns. Too often security and intelligence studies rests upon the British or American voice, or the British and American attempt at taking an Indian viewpoint. Dheeraj engages with and speaks to the intelligence and security studies field, but does so with authentic Indian experiences and research material. In doing so he is performing a valuable service in opening our eyes to a vitally important strategic partner, and a highly capable intelligence and security power. In these uncertain times, it is a critically important role.'

    Robert Dover, Professor of Intelligence and National Security, University of Hull