- The very mention of intelligence gathering, secret service, undercover agents, sleeper agents, spies, and any other moniker usually associated with covert security-related operations – both internal as well as external – evokes mesmerizing fascination to know more about the way this personnel and their respective departments’ function. Many movies produced based on these riveting elements always succeeded in attracting not only huge patronage from the discerning patrons but also raking in the huge moolah at the box office. We have grown up on those cocktails of crime, suspense, thriller, and spy genre movies providing thrills and frills in abundance. And most of us never feel satiated with the trill quotient perpetually available for consumption.
PC: Roger Moore
- There is another medium of expression that is also equally popular never failing to captivate the attention of people who will be fully immersed in absorbing the thrill-a-minute narration. Yes, I am referring to the books written about secret service officials and their functionalities whilst undertaking various covert and overt operations during the discharge of entrusted responsibilities. The genre of thrillers and spy characters depicted in a book format has a huge loyal customer base which is being patronized even now despite digital entertainment mediums making a huge presence vis-à-vis content, scale, grandeur, reach, razzmatazz, and what have you. No wonder, the Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms are justifiably streaming several web series keeping the viewing public engaged.
- However, the world’s largest democracy produces too few good books and commentaries from those who were in the intelligence-national security apparatus. Now, there may be fewer as the new amendments to central civil services pension rules bar retired officers of intelligence-security agencies from publishing anything pertaining to their former workplaces without permission from the organization’s head. Former officials failing to adhere to following new guidelines risk having their pensions withdrawn or withheld. Note that the new rules promulgated will cover 25 organizations including the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and Border Security Force.
PC: L.A. McKeown
- Delving further into the pension rules of 2007 reveals that the employees of intelligence-security agencies were barred from sharing sensitive information but were still applied liberally with permission only required from a head of departments. New rules though broaden restrictions by barring pre-approved publication of any material related to the “domain of the organization” and “information about personnel”. As can be seen, this offers a very wide scope of interpretation. Two issues could be deliberated here. Firstly, linking pension to post-retirement conduct is in principle wrong as pensions are awarded for services already rendered by officers to government and country. Hence, should not be refashioned to pose severe hurdles for retired officers.
- Secondly, there are hardly any worthy books emanating from the memoirs of officers having represented intelligence-security agencies. Hence, very little is known about the apparatus and whatever is in the public discourse is a most fertile figment of the imagination/fiction. Unlike western democracies where books by ex-espionage and national security officials are a part of a rich national discourse, our country sorely lacks the same largely relying on hearsay and fictionalized account. The new rules have put paid to the aspirations of retired officers contemplating to write their memoirs.