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“Intelligence & the World’s Largest Democracy” - Indian Spy Chief Vikram Sood

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station description Each week, the International Spy Museum will offer a new SpyCast featuring intervie... read more
SpyCast
Duration: 54:30
In a first for the show, this week’s guest is a former spy chief from the world’s largest democracy.  Vikram Sood. R&AW. India. Vikram Sood was a career intelligence officer who rose to the pinnacle of his profession to become the Director of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s
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In a first for the show, this week’s guest is a former spy chief from the world’s largest democracy.  Vikram Sood. R&AW. India. Vikram Sood was a career intelligence officer who rose to the pinnacle of his profession to become the Director of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s storied foreign intelligence agency (akin to the CIA and MI6). To give you a sense of the size of the scale of the country R&AW acts on behalf of, India has more people of the Muslim faith than Pakistan, which itself is the fifth largest country in the world by population; more human beings within its borders than in the entire Western Hemisphere (yup, that’s every homo sapien from Cape Columbia in Canada to Cape Horn in Chile); and is due to overtake China as Planet Earth’s most populous country in the very near future. For this reason, and more, I am glad that India is taking its place in SpyCast’s programming. The pandemic has accelerated technological change with regards to capturing high-quality audio in the virtual space, and now the world is quite literally our oyster (I don’t know about you, but I plan to pour some mignonette sauce on that puppy and slurp it down - we are the International Spy Museum after all!). Narratives and Power Politics Vikram and Andrew talk about India, Pakistan (of course), China (of course), the USA (of course) and narratives and how hard-headed spooks can also be sensitive souls (because why not). Seriously, though, Vikram was gracious, thoughtful and frank: you have to hear what he says about “signing off” on the daily intelligence brief that was to be sent to the Prime Minister...it’s refreshingly honest. Spoiler alert: spies are humans too! Terrorism. 9/11. Indian Parliament Attack. Vikram was R&AW chief between 2000-2003, some momentous years globally and in the region. The September 11 attacks, which had far-reaching consequences in South and Central Asia; the 2001-2002 India-Pakistan Standoff, the fallout from terror attacks on the legislative assembly in Srinagar and the Indian parliament in New Delhi, which saw two nuclear armed nations stand on the brink; and much more. Author & Analyst Vikram is currently affiliated with the Observer Research Foundation, a think-tank based in New Delhi. His writing on security, intelligence and terrorism has appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers and he is the author of two books, The Unending Game: A Former R&AW Chief's Insights into Espionage (Penguin Random House, 2018) and The Ultimate Goal: A Former R&AW Chief Deconstructs How Nations Construct Narratives (Harper India, 2022).
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