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Q 57- Consider the role that India's intelligence agencies can and must play in tracking environmental dangers and epidemics. (250 words)

  • Paper & Topic: GS III à Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate. Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.


  • Model Answer:


  • Introduction:


  • An intelligence agency is a government organization tasked with gathering, analysing, and exploiting data in support of law enforcement, national security, military, and foreign policy goals.
  • Covid-19 has emphasized the importance of gathering data that affects our health, economy, and security.


  • Body:


  • Intelligence agencies' roles:


  • Give advance notice of impending crises.
  • Assist in national and international crisis management by assisting in the detection of present or potential adversaries' objectives.
  • Military actions and national defense strategy should be informed (military intelligence)
  • Both their own sources and activities, as well as those of other state agencies, are kept secret.
  • Influence the outcome of events in a way that benefits national interests or affects international security.
  • Defend against other national intelligence agencies' efforts (counter-intelligence).
  • The role of intelligence agencies is to keep track of environmental risks and epidemics.


  • How Intelligence agencies can help to evaluate the level of pandemic:


  • Following confirmation of an unexpected 'pneumonia' breakout on December 31, 2019, the Taiwanese authorities swiftly implemented control measures to guarantee that the island nation escaped the covid-19 pandemic relatively undamaged.
  • To yet, just 686 cases have been reported in the country of 24 million people.
  • According to public sources, Taiwanese authorities learned about the Wuhan outbreak on New Year's Eve after a whistle blown by a mainland Chinese health worker was reinforced through social media sites.
  • Taiwan began quarantining passengers on January 1, 2020, and began investigations that revealed human-to-human transmission of the virus a few weeks later, contradicting the Chinese government's claims to the contrary.
  • In the fight against epidemics, every day counts, given the speed and volume of air travel.
  • Of course, having early information isn't enough; what the government does with it is equally important.
  • In the last few weeks of 2019, the US public health and intelligence communities, like Taiwan, discovered an epidemic of something new and potentially harmful in Wuhan.
  • Despite being mentioned in the president's daily briefing in early January, Washington did not apply travel restrictions until the end of the month, after 300,000 airline passengers had landed in the US.
  • Despite the widely disparate outcomes, one thing that both Taiwan and the United States had in common was good intelligence on China's public health developments.
  • In late December, neither India's public health nor external intelligence officials knew much about what was going on in Wuhan.
  • Our public health experts rely on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), which is based on information provided by the Chinese government.
  • Meanwhile, our intelligence agencies would have focused their efforts on targets related to politics, the military, and national security.
  • Wet-markets and pneumonia would have been on the outskirts of their minds at best.
  • In the end, unlike the Taiwanese administration, the Indian government was unaware of the huge threat that was brewing in our neighboring country.
  • While strengthening the WHO to make it more efficient, accountable, and reliable in administering global public health is sensible, it is insufficient.
  • To promote their political goals, countries will hide, deny, manipulate, or play up biological and environmental developments.
  • Multilateral organizations, such as the World Health Organization, will be restricted by the same political goals, and so cannot be completely trusted.
  • Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of India having its own means of obtaining information that affects our health, economy, and security.
  • The Research & Analysis Wing should be given the task of tracking health and environmental hazards, as well as the expertise to collect and analyse such information.
  • In the face of climate, epidemic, and other threats, the R&AW and other agencies should be prepared to carry out covert operations.
  • According to the New York Times' Julian Barnes and Michael Venutolo-Mantovani, "every major intelligence service across the world is trying to find out what everyone else is up to" in illness management, vaccine development, and political effect.
  • In Israel, Mossad "had an outsized role in procuring the medical gear, and information, needed in the epidemic... in certain instances, the agency had acquired equipment that other countries had previously ordered," according to another study by Ronen Bergman.




  • Conclusion:


  • The People's Republic of China is at the epicentre of viral pandemics, as well as being governed by a regime with the intent and capability to control information.
  • This emphasizes the importance of having accurate advance information.
  • If Kargil served as a wake-up call for India to improve its defence and intelligence systems, Covid-19 serves as another major wake-up call.
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