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Remembering Raman

After facing a deadly illness for some years, patiently, courageously, even stoically, Raman is no more with us. I feel really privileged to have known him although it was only after my retirement from service in 1993 that I got to know him. This was when I was appointed Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board in 2002-2003. He was appointed earlier to this Board as a member. I became acquainted with his powerful intellect, his penetrating analyses of events and issues and his ability to anticipate happenings before they took place. All these qualities were underpinned by a prodigious memory and a holistic understanding of societies which included their histories, cultures, economies, technological, military capabilities and human psychologies. These assets he brought to bear fully in understanding the plague of terrorism which has been with us now for some time. He made an international name for himself in the complex field of studying non-state actors indulging in acts of terrorism, their signatures, their ideological beliefs and their political aims. But the unique contribution of Raman was his ability to study and explain each significant militant/terrorist group from different geographies without lumping them as homogenous entities, as the “Global War on Terrorism” tended to do. It was but appropriate that Raman’s expertise was utilized by successive Governments on important committees to recommend structural and other changes in institutions to deal with intelligence and counter terrorism.

Two other significant contributions of Raman may be recalled here. One was his books and articles on the Research and Analysis Wing(RAW). While other retired officials from this institution have written books, his work demystified this important organ of Government. Not only that but he captured the adventure, excitement and challenges of serving in this institution at times when we were far less technologically enabled and when salaries were abysmally low! His other contribution, through his prodigious industry was to share his daily(almost) comments on developments, where Indian interests were involved, using the internet and in response to TV interviews. His special interest in China was an invaluable link for me. His life would be an example not only to those who are serving in his parent organization but to scholars of international relations. Raman, you will be sorely missed!

(The writer, Ambassador C.V.Ranganathan, IFS(Retd.) is the Vice-President of the Chennai Centre for China Studies.Email: cvranganathan@gmail.com)

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