The Kingmakers – Baker Street Spies & Indian Elections #GreatGame
The Great Game blog has an interesting post by Shelley Kasli that caught my eye.
But many a king on a first-class throne,
If he wants to call his crown his own,
Must manage somehow to get through
More dirty work than I ever do.
—W.S. GILBERT in The Pirates of Penzance
quoted in David Ogilvy’s memoir
On the day the 2014 Lok Sabha Election results were announced, amidst the media hype and public frenzy while the people took home hope in their hearts and smiles on their faces Mukesh Ambani added almost $1 billion to his wealth while Gautam Adani gained $400 million. However this is not the story of Kings, but the Kingmakers. The story of the nobles of an ancient Celtic clan with close ties to the Queen who as managers of the Raj made their Empire managing opium production in India and later in the scramble for China. Improvising on the psychological warfare techniques developed by the Nazis during World War II and under the direct order from Churchill these band of irregular spies were sent to US to carry out covert propaganda to change US public opinion and drag US to war. After the war these same group had no scruples in applying the psychological warfare methods they had learned on the civilian population in peacetime and a transition was made from active propaganda operations during the war to careers in advertising and public opinion surveys afterwards. Interestingly today India stands on the same crossroads with foreign spies running rampant on Indian soil as was the America in the mid 40s. The divine intervention of the British Intelligence is omnipresent. This is the story of the shadowy world of British Intelligence who managed the Indian Election campaigns of both the BJP and Congress through their Psychological Warfare outfits we now know as PR agencies.
David Ogilvy – PsyWar with a Suit
In those days it was the fashion for diplomats to regard Intelligence Officers as unprincipled ruffians. We returned the compliment by regarding the diplomats as ceremonial and gutless.
– DAVID OGILVY, Blood, Brains and Beer
The post looks at the players influencing minds in this election and meanders through history tracing linkages of power and their evolution and ties in with implications for today’s India and raises several important questions. What are the agendas at play here? Who profits? At what cost?
The post meticulously ties various threads from the history of intelligence operations and power and references book after book for obscure insights that add in to the picture with quotes that drive the point home.
When those tasked with influencing the nation’s mind have historic ties with international power brokers, what happens to the nation’s interest? Does the influence even remain limited to what the objective of the party was? What implications does this have for the country?