Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appointed Samant Goel as the new Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief of India and Arvind Kumar as the director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Modi, who is chairman of the Cabinet Appointments Committee, has appointed Goel and Kumar to lead two of the country’s premier intelligence agencies. Interestingly, Modi himself had passed the enrollment stage for the 1986 batch of the Indian Police Service (IPS).
Goel will lead RAW, India’s external intelligence agency that gathers and interprets information on other countries. It was formed in 1962 after the Indo-China war to help India prepare for foreign threats. Sources report that RAW advises the government on foreign policy and is key in monitoring any malicious activity from Pakistan and China.
On the other hand, the IB is India’s internal intelligence agency. It is only tasked with gathering intelligence through domestic surveillance on any number of topics—from terror plots to stock market manipulation. The IB is different from the Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBI), in that the CBI is a police organisation that can detain, arrest, and interrogate suspects.
Goel and Kumar will start their tenure by the end of the month. Goel is taking over from RAW Secretary Anil K Dhasmana, and Kumar is replacing IB Chief Rajiv Jain.
Who is RAW Chief Samant Goel?
Goel is an IPS officer from the 1984 batch. Goel was a cadre (specialist officer) stationed in Punjab. He gained recognition while quelling the Punjab militancy of the ’90s and planning the 2016 Uri surgical strikes. He is also considered an expert on Pakistan.
He was also instrumental in planning the Balakot air strikes across the Line of Control. Although the international community and Pakistan called for restraint from India, the air strikes allowed the Modi administration to surge in domestic popularity right before the Lok Sabha elections 2019.
Now, with Goel’s appointment, it’s obvious that Modi is not shying away from militarism; he is, in fact, embracing it and rewarding officials who have helped bring out successful military operations. Goel is also a respected officer and makes for a good face for RAW.
Meet IB Chief Arvind Kumar
Like Goel, Kumar also is an IPS officer from the 1984 batch. He was based in Assam-Meghalaya and then made his way to the rank of special director in the IB.
Hindustan Times reports that he is IB’s resident expert on Kashmir. Kumar also has “special expertise in dealing with left-wing extremism”, such as Naxalite and Maoists insurgency and focuses on counter-terrorism.
In the past few years, extremism fueled by communal sentiments or partisanship has gained ground. Recently, the BJP complained about violence in Bengal after a few party workers were allegedly murdered or injured by TMC workers.
On a more pan-Indian level, India has experienced right-wing extremism, like attacks by cow vigilantes, on alarming levels. As IB Chief, Kumar will be tasked with managing extremism on both ends of the spectrum.
Both Goel and Kumar will be locked in for a two-year term. The next high-profile appointment will be of the Army Chief as General Bipin Rawat will be retiring by the end of 2019.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius
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