I just completed “Inside IB and RAW” by K. Sankaran Nair, the former Head of India’s external intelligence agency RAW and a former Indian High Commissioner to Singapore. I grabbed this book with eager anticipation as I love reading about spies and the like and I thought Sankaran Nair was best qualified to write about it considering the title of the book.To some extent I must confess I found the book to be disappointing, yet I was pleasantly surprised to find some parts very entertaining. The reason is not far to find. The fault is mine and not Mr. Nair’s. When you see a book with such a title, perhaps you expect to hear all kinds of stories while Mr. Nair as a seasoned bureaucrat is unlikely to spill the beans, though he was far more courageous and principled than I would imagine most bureaucrats are these days.
Mr. Sankaran Nair’s book largely talks of his life as a young man who sought and got entry into the then prestigious Imperial Police in the days of the British Raj. After a few years in uniform, where he has interesting tales to relate about his British bosses and those far away time, he moved to Delhi and later worked in different capacities in the Intelligence Bureau and then RAW, India’s external intelligence agency. He then speaks of how he was part of the team that enabled India to host the Asian Games in 1982. There is no denying that this event really changed the face of New Delhi. He rounds off his autobiography with stories of his days as India’s High Commissioner to Singapore.
I was glad to find that Mr. Nair is an alumni of Loyola College, Chennai ( Madras in those days) where I too studied decades later. The strong points of the book are his command of the English language, his dry sense of humour and self-deprecating manner of describing his strong suite of talents that enabled him to achieve all that he did.
Unfortunately like many books published in India, typographical errors have crept into the book. The byline for the book is ” The Rolling Stone that Gathered Moss”. This is so typical of Mr. Nair’s writing. All in all, if you don’t expect to get to know a lot of gory details about spy stuff, you won’t be disappointed. It makes for good reading if you like autobiographies, like I do.