Why Covert Missions Of India’s ‘Spymaster’ & RAW Founder R.N. Kao Can Beat Any Spy Thriller

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In 1971, when tension between the two provinces of Pakistan – West and East (modern Bangladesh) was fuelling up, India was confronted with a sudden influx of refugees who were fleeing East Pakistan. They desperately sought to survive the mass murder inflicted by the Pakistani army to uproot these people from their birthplace.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

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Amid the unrest, an Indian intelligence agent already acquired secret information about Pakistan’s plan to declare a full-fledged war on its Eastern province. He envisioned the possibility of a better future. He decided to turn the disoriented and helpless bunch of refugees into a guerilla army. Thus was born the ‘Mukti Bahini’ comprising around 1,00,000 refugee soldiers, who thwarted Pakistan’s dominance. Finally, in December 1971, thanks to Indian intervention, Pakistan surrendered and thus was born the independent nation of Bangladesh, all thanks to one man’s foresight.

General Sam Manekshaw is mainly credited for India’s victory in the 1971 war, but little is heard about the significant contribution of another, who spearheaded the entire war from the background, with brilliant combat strategies and conflict tactics. He was a close and loyal associate of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who entrusted him to procure confidential information from Pakistan’s military camps, that indeed helped propel the war in the right direction. The same man behind the ‘Mukti Bahini’, this was Rameshwar Nath Kao, the founder of Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) – the prime intelligence agency of India.

Kao’s early life

Kao was born in Varanasi in 1918, to a family of immigrant Kashmiri Pandits. He pursued a postgraduate degree in English literature. In 1940, he qualified the Civil Services Examination and started working as Assistant Superintendent of Police, Kanpur in pre-independent India. Sometime prior to Independence, Kao was deputed to the Intelligence Bureau, which was nowhere near its present significance then. Later in 1957, Nehru sent him to Ghana after they gained freedom from the British regime, to single-handedly develop the intelligence sector of the country. Kao helped build the Foreign Service Research Bureau (FSRB) within a year.

The foundation of R&AW

R&AW came into being after 1965, following the Indo-China War of 1962 and the Indo-Pak war of 1965, during which the failure of the intelligence bureau had become exceedingly evident. PM Indira Gandhi segregated the Intelligence Bureau into two separate segments. R&AW evolved from this bifurcation, dedicated to deal with India’s international intelligence. The agency can be regarded as Kao’s brainchild, as he designed the set-up drawing inspiration from top-level global intelligence agencies as well as his years of experience in this domain.

Inevitably, Indira Gandhi chose Kao as the head of the organisation, and R&AW started functioning from September 21, 1968.

The ‘Kaoboys’ who hijacked a Pak plane

The initial workforce of R&AW comprised 250 geniuses handpicked by Kao himself from the erstwhile Intelligence Bureau, who constituted the first-generation top-class intelligence agents of India. Their life and work was an enigma for Indians, who knew them ‘Kaoboys’. Within a year, R&AW established an integrated global network, with branch offices in the US, UK and other parts of Europe and South-East Asia.

Soon India’s tension with Pakistan started brewing up again owing to the sprouting turmoil in Bangladesh. Former R&AW official R.K. Yadav once revealed how Kao masterminded a strategy to thwart Pakistan’s attempts of flying their soldiers to East Pakistan. Following Kao’s instructions, a group of R&AW agents posed as Kashmiri separatists and hijacked a Lahore-bound Indian Airlines plane from Srinagar. While they ensured the safe return of all the passengers back to India, the plane was blown up at Lahore airport. This covert mission prompted Pakistan to stall all their Bangladesh-bound planes.

Bangladesh PM ignored Kao’s warning & was assassinated

By 1975, when newborn Bangladesh was still warming up to its freshly assigned status of an independent nation, Kao found out about an assassination ploy against Bangladesh PM Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. A section of his military officials was planning a coup to overthrow him and assume power. Alarmed, Kao went to Dhaka (former Dacca), in the guise of a betel-nut exporter. He held an hour-long meeting with Rahman, warning about the danger. He even specifically alerted Rahman with names of army officials who would possibly betray him. Unfortunately, Rahman dismissed Kao’s warnings and was assassinated by the very same military officials, just a week later. Forty members of his family were murdered as well.

No fictional spy agent can match up to Kao

It was due to Kao’s timely and precise intervention that Sikkim is a part of India today, and not China. In 1975, Sikkim was an independent kingdom ruled by the Chogyal monarchy. Kao predicted that the border province might soon be a bone of contention between China and the USA, compromising India’s security, states a report by The Independent. Indian government immediately annexed Sikkim with the mainland as the 22nd state.

The Queen of England was also a witness to Kao’s efficiency and sincerity during her first visit to independent India in the early 1950s. At her reception, Kao spotted a bouquet being thrown at her. Within a second, he dived from the crowd and caught the bouquet, assuming it might contain a bomb aimed at her. Such was the agility and commitment of India’s ‘spymaster’, which might find resemblance with any fictional spy thriller.

Little is known about the personal life of R.N. Kao as he was an extremely private person. Despite his landmark roles in shaping India’s post-independence history, he has always preferred to stay away from the limelight, perhaps to aid in his furtive missions. The strategies, policies and tactics crafted by him still hold relevance in the operations of India’s prime intelligence agency. He breathed his last on January 20, 2002.

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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