[In Focus: Be a Detective] The name’s Spy… I Spy

Posted on August 8, 2010 in Alternative Careers

By Arijit Paladhi:

We lapped up James Bond, the suavely stylish British spy working for Queen and country with all his sleek suits, his lady-killing ways and his bloody kewl gadgets. Oh yeah, not to forget the Aston Martins and the Vodka Martinis. Then came Jason Bourne, the partial amnesiac with his battering hand-to-hand combats and frenetic eyes that kept gauging the risks, always in motion and always lethally explosive. Ethan Hunt followed and so did numerous others, some comic, some forgetful and some quite plaintive with nothing quintessentially new. Which brings us to why we are discussing this, the notion of becoming a spy is alluring, right? All the flirting with danger, the lady-killer sprees, the sleek cars and slick gizmos you’re gonna wield. Right. Right. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Here’s the real eye-opener: the life of a foreign spy is one of extreme duress, sometimes a balance of life and death, blowing up his/her cover with one small slip, one inane comment and it’s over. And you don’t get to choose your posting. You could be posted in the corners of Mombasa, garnering information on something which doesn’t concern your country much or you could be deployed as a decoy to an actual spy as his understudy in your nation’s embassy in London or Washington D.C. The life isn’t easy and the thrills you crave aren’t going to be satiated. Post-Cold War, the life of a spy has been cordoned off or negated except in enemy/hostile territory.

Entry into RAW and IB is not specially distinctive. RAW does not hold a separate entrance exam, so you have to pass the UPSC exams and then apply for the Research Analysis Service (RAS) cadre. If you’re in, you’re on. For Intelligence Bureau, you can sit for SSC combined graduate exam (the exam is conducted by UPSC).
If you pass the exam then you will be called for training. The syllabus is Principles of Criminology, Psychology of Crime, Criminal Law, Police Administration, Forensic Science and Medicine, Juvenile Delinquency, Correctional Management and Rehabilitation of Criminals etc.

You climb up the ladder slowly and steadily, maybe in some cases working a desk job which could be all you’re going to do your entire life. Unknown to you, your superiors wil be gauging your potentials and limitations, your intel-gathering skills and expertise and calmness in handling situations, the two most sought after acquisitions. Promotions to the nation’s active secret service, in our case RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) may or may not come. In the real world, a spy’s job is intel-gathering, developing moles and conduits for information. A secret service essentially performs at three levels: Techint(Technical Intelligence), Humint(Human Intelligence) and Sigint(Signal Intelligence). Amongst these, the most reliable and accurate is Humint, a core base which drives The Mossad, Israeli Secret Service and according to me, the most predatory and deadly.

However, the range of working for your nation’s secret service isn’t restricted to being a spy alone. You can go for Handwriting Analysis and CBI, now working overtime on cases that I find derogatory to their abilities are severely understaffed, very much like RAW and JIC. Why, even our armed forces are under-staffed I might say. Cryptography can turn out to be your calling if you are adept at solving puzzles and like marauding your brain over intricate messages encoded by another human or a computer. Though Cryptography is lacking in India, it does have an immense role in the virtual world for homing on assassination plots to terrorist conversations with their godparent.

That brings us to Cyber-Security, a colossal avenue lying unexplored and underestimated even as the world goes tech-savvy. In India, itself, a not-so developed nation in terms of technological advancements, data theft is estimated at around billions. Viruses, Worms, Tojans are the new ways of identity theft and it takes more than jsut a password to be secure. In this context, the sensitive info of our government needs all the more protection from BlackHat hackers. Become an Ethical Hacker for your country and government security. It’s like they say, ‘the in thing’.