India was ‘Mission Critical’ during cold War! Know how the CIA and KGB pumped propaganda into India

As the Cold War gained momentum,  India became a CIA (central intelligence agency) target. It was all because the first prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru came up with idea of ‘socialist India’. Nehru had remained silent when the Soviets invaded Hungary in October 1956 but he expressed disapproval to British, French and Israelis for their invasion of Egypt during the Suez crisis a week later.

This was enough for the Americans to make India a country of interest in the Cold War.

in 1955 India becoming the founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement was also viewed with extreme suspicion in Washington, DC and other Western European capitals.

Jayaprakash Narayan, at that president of the Congress for Cultural Freedom’s India chapter was staunch anti communist. He had condemned Nehru for his silence on Hungary. JP in later years became Nehru’s strident critic. Who later discontinued from cultural freedom chapter.

The magazines like Quest and Imprint were  started in India by the CIA through cultural freedom India’s chapter.

Quest got off to a poor start, Indian communists described it as American propaganda. This magazine lasted for more than twenty years with many prominent Indians contributing articles, poems and essays to it. It was used to advertise many co CIA establishments of America in India.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the CIA was desperate not to let the KGB have the  in India. Philip Knightley (author of The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century) became managing editor of Imprint. Based out of Mumbai, this literary magazine was sold for one rupee. Knightley knew Imprint very well since it was one of his little operations when he was CIA station chief from 1960–64! Imprint was intended to counter the influence of the numerous cheap and glossy Soviet magazines that were easily available in India.

the publication had a legitimate bank account that could be used for other covert operations, it was a kind of safe house for the CIA’s agents. From here they ran recruitment and other operations. The magazine eventually shut down in 1986. Igor, the KGB man in Mumbai, tried to recruit Knightley.

India was the playground of intelligence games between the CIA and the KGB. The KGB claimed they had ten Indian newspapers and one news agency on their payroll and thousands of articles were planted in these outlets. It claimed to have funded several politicians, senior bureaucrats (including diplomats, police officers and intelligence officers) and members of Parliament. the CIA too did not lag behind in this kind of activity. The espionage case of the Larkin brothers in the 1980s was an example of the CIA’s successes.

The two brothers were charged under the Official Secrets Act for selling classified information to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents operating under diplomatic cover in the US Embassy in New Delhi.

The game  took a dirty turn by the 1960. the KGB had acquired a considerable hold on the Indian system. This was classic intelligence business, with Indira Gandhi’s code name being VANO in KGB records as revealed by the Mithrokin archives.

Yuri Bezmenov– a soviet journalist, a former informant if Kgb, who later defected to Canada.

In 1984, he gave an interview to G. Edward Griffin an American conspiracy theorist.In the interview, Bezmenov explained the methods used by the KGB for the gradual subversion of the political system.

He mentions a method of ‘brainwashing’ which involves 4 stages,

Demoralization– educate an entire generation in Marxist ideology

Destabilization– use the undercover agents to disrupt economy, foreign relations and military

Crisis-violent change of power, structure and economy.

Normalization– period of stability or laying low till start of next crisis.

A a secret CIA report of 1985 was declassified in December 2011. It gives details of how the Americans saw KGB activities in India up to November 1985.

The CIA’s assessment of that time was that the Soviets gave substantial financial assistance to Indira Gandhi’s Congress (I), the two communist parties and individual politicians of different political parties. Consequently, the Soviets had easy access to the corridors of power and to Indian newspapers.

The report states, At one time, Moscow planted covertly and overtly more than 1,60,000 items in the freest press in the Third World. its access to the Press Trust of India gave the agency the title “Press Tass of India” (after the Soviet news agency TASS).

In addition, the Soviets covertly financed the publication of books and distributed about 25 million magazines, books and pamphlets.

The Americans surely played their own games as well.

General Oleg Kalugin, former chief of the First Directorate of the KGB, said that it looked as if India was for sale.

Both the CIA and the KGB had penetrated the Indian government. As a result, neither the Soviets nor the Americans entrusted sensitive information to the Indians fearing it might reach the other camp. These countries didn’t even feel the guilt of spying on their ally.

By the excerpt from yuri bezmenov’s interview we can get an idea that India had to pass through all the four stages of brainwashing mentioned by him. And we can have a clearer idea of all the events that took place in India with Indira Gandhi codenamed VANO in a better perspective.

India’ s passage through the four stages drastically changed its cultural, economical and intellectual course.

The communist ideology was pumped in blaming everything Indian. History was distorted, Indian heroes from history were pictured in bad light. Any opposition was eliminated without leaving any trace. All by various accidents.

How can any country face so much of accidents coincidentally????

The fruit of ‘Atti'(ficus tree) are too beautiful to look at. The scholars compare that fruit to a person who has a graceful appearance but lack commitment, because the atti fruit from inside is always infested by worms.

It was such ficus fruits which destroyed Indian heritage and culture. They almost sold India for their personal gain.

Source: The Unending Game: A Former R&AW Chief’s Insights Into Espionage, Vikram Sood, Penguin Random House.

Dr Sindhu Prashanth