Q: Has India been utilizing Open Source Intelligence? How can OSINT be institutionalized in India?
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Replied by Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee

What we obtain from ‘Open Sources’ – news paper reports, broadcasts, discussion forums, seminars, books, articles, papers and maps published by institutions etc. – are actually ‘information’, not intelligence. When such information is professionally processed for purposes like planning, decision making etc. in any field of activity, the information turns into workable data or statistics. One set of information may be of use in different ways for different purposes, whereas some are relevant for a particular purpose – education, construction, governance etc.

In the field of security, when information is corroborated, authenticated, collated, synthesised, analysed, and disseminated to those who need these to plan and decide, the matter becomes ‘intelligence’. It could be either open, restricted or confidential/secret. These fields of intelligence could be economic, industrial, law and order, internal security, external security, military security etc.

Institutions, civil and military, have well developed systems of generating, and processing OSINT according to their roles, functional methods, requirements and experiences. Obviously, besides the standard principles of management of intelligence, each system vary, there cannot be just one method. Our systems of intelligence, in all the above mentioned fields, are well structured.It mostly relies on OSINT.

However, when it comes to aggressive, clandestine and cold-blooded methods of intelligence operations - which all other powers follow of necessity - the Indian policyin the post-independence period has generally been that of reticence- barring few exceptions. So discouraged, India’s once-efficient intelligence system was allowed to atrophy, HUMINT particularly.But if we wish to hold our own in this dog-eat-dog world, we have to build a ruthlessly efficient system for internal and external intelligence, particularly in the field of national defence. Building-up for such a system requires decades of developing and nurturing; that will take a long time to put in place. Some beginning in that direction has been made in the recent years.

Date : 16/12/2020
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