Vikram Sood – Spy Life, RAW, Pakistan & India’s Enemies

In this stellar conversation with former R&AW Chief Vikram Sood, he talks about the evolution of RAW from the intelligence bureau, the gathering of information on adversaries, the 1962 Chinese invasion, and the 1965 Pakistani invasion. 

It was a true pleasure to host him on AJIO Presents The Ranveer Show.

Start Of R&AW

“We took over all the systems that the British followed. It started with the Intelligence Bureau. They gather information about plans and moves against India. The Intelligence Bureau was gathering information and planning the moves. We were in a situation where Kashmir would be taken away. One organization won’t be able to deal with this alone when enemies from both sides are attacking. Therefore they started one more wing called R&AW.”

“R.N. Kao was the head of the organization. The first major win this wing had was the 1971 war. There are two types of sources: one is when someone provides you with documentation, and the other is just based on information. When I joined, there was nothing like a mobile phone or fax. So it took months to get information.”

Intelligence Agency

“The intel that the intelligence agency collects and puts into use is like 10% of the total information available. Most of the information is from open sources which means everyone knows about it. It is the art of putting together open sources and this 10% of information together. A lot of information comes in from social media. You can twist stories around on social media.”

“There are people who join because they design to work in here. Few just want to look at it and see if it suits them. A few of them go back as well.”

Working At R&AW

“I joined in 1971. Indira Gandhi made sure that it should not be a police organization. It should have talent from everyone else. In India, it is difficult to hide where you work. I said I was working in the Cabinet secretariat. My wife knew what I was doing, but my kids didn’t know for a long time. They knew I was working with the government then, a few years later, I told them.”

Best Day Of His Life

“The best day of my life would be the 23 of January, as I got married that day. She was a rock behind me.”

Three Things He Would Do If He Was The PM

“I would like to do three things. One would be I would like to educate children in skills and not just graduate. I would like 50% of the population to have opportunities, and I would want to look after the older people. They need help and protection more than young people.”

Realism in Spy Movies

“Movies like Pathan and Ek tha Tiger are not realistic. It can be done better and more realistic. They have a story of an ISI girl and an R & AW man falling in love. I enjoy the movie but there is no reality in that. A Bridge of Spy closely depicted the life of a spy. And Tinker tailors soldier spy is a series that is based on a true story. The novel on it is also amazing.”


“Internet is a Western gift that they have given themself. Through the internet, they have got a lot of data and information about everything. Our knowledge is coming to us from them. I fear things like Chat GPT will reduce the thought process of human thinking. If you look at the Chinese belief, they say that the best war is that you fight without having to kill or die.”


“One thing about China is their rulers have been autocrats. Autocrats are people who have power, authority, and money.  They are used to the harsh rules that the West doesn’t understand. Chinese have a strength. There is a lot of strategy and a lot of aid from the West.”

Dark Side Of America

“If you can control oil, you can control the world, and if you can control food, you can control people. I think genetically modified food could be harmful. I don’t know how, but it does. America has people who do this. It could be happening, and it is all about money.”

About Modi Government

“In the last ten years, the government has tried to deliver on some of its promises. There are trying to make a difference. I am not saying everything is right, but it is better. Now we stand as a country that is willing to stand up. Now they know we would fight back.”

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