A Look At R.N. Kao: ‘More George Smiley Than James Bond’


NEW DELHI: Who was RN Kao and how did he shape India’s external intelligence agency R&AW? SNI and Bharat Shakti Founder and Editor-in-Chief Nitin Gokhale has authored a book on the ‘Gentleman Spymaster’ that will be available in mid-November. In this conversation, the author previews the man, his previously unknown private and public life and how he shaped crucial parts of history.

It provides never before details of the crash of Air India’s ‘Kashmir Princess’, with investigations revealing a Taiwanese plot to assassinate then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai. It covers India’s 1962 debacle, the role of the U.S. and how Lop Nur in south-east Xinjiang was identified as a nuclear test site.

Did you know that an Indian mole in General Yahya Khan’s office provided crucial intelligence to the Indian Air Force? There are also details of India’s covert role during the Bangladesh war of independence.

Gokhale deep dives to give us an insight into the understated yet stylish Ramji Kao and how he built the R&AW. How did Kao deal with the criticism that followed the assassination of Mujibur Rahman? How did he cope with allegations that compared R&AW to Germany’s infamous Gestapo?

In the foreword, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval writes: “Personally, blessed by Ramji Kao’s 99-year-old wife, Malini Kao, I am sure this book will be read with great interest not only by intelligence professionals but also by common citizens in the years to come”.


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