Intelligence Bureau
आसूचना ब्यूरो
Insignia of Intelligence Bureau
Agency overview
Formedc. 1887 (1887)
HeadquartersNew Delhi, Delhi, India
Mottoजागृतं अहर्निशं (Sanskrit)
Jāgṛtaṃ Aharniśaṃ (ISO)
transl. "Always Alert"
Annual budget3,418.32 crore (US$409.6 million)(2023–24)[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executive
Parent agencyMinistry of Home Affairs
125th Anniversary Postage Stamp (2013)

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) (Hindi: आसूचना ब्यूरो; IAST: āsūcanā byūro) is India's internal security and counterintelligence agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was founded in 1887 as Central Special Branch, and is reputed to be the oldest such organisation in the world.[2][3]

Until 1968, it handled both domestic and foreign intelligence after which the Research and Analysis Wing was formed specifically for foreign intelligence; following that, the IB was primarily assigned the role of domestic intelligence and internal security.[4] Tapan Deka, the current director of the IB, took over from Arvind Kumar on 24 June 2022.[5]


In 1885, Major General Charles MacGregor was appointed as the Quartermaster General for the Indian Army at Simla and thereby became responsible for its intelligence activities. The main concern of the time was to monitor Russian troops deployments near Afghanistan, to avoid an invasion of India from the northwest.[citation needed]

The IB was created on 23 December 1887, by the Secretary of State for India (a UK Government minister, managing relations between the UK and India from 1858 to 1947) as a sub-sect of the Central Special Branch but there is no act of the Indian Parliament nor executive order relating to the functioning of the IB. In 2013, a public interest litigant challenged the legality of the IB.[6]


Shrouded in secrecy, the IB is used to garner intelligence from within India and also execute counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism tasks. The Bureau comprises employees from law enforcement agencies, mostly from the Indian Police Service (IPS) or the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and the military. However, the Director of Intelligence Bureau (DIB) has always been an IPS officer. In addition to domestic intelligence responsibilities, the IB is particularly tasked with intelligence collection in border areas, following the 1951 recommendations of the Himmat Singh Ji Committee (also known as the North and North-East Border Committee), a task entrusted to the military intelligence organisations before independence in 1947.

All spheres of human activity within India and in the neighbourhood are allocated to the charter of duties of the Intelligence Bureau. The IB was also tasked with other external intelligence responsibilities from 1951 until 1968 when the Research and Analysis Wing was formed.[7]

Activities and operations

The Intelligence Bureau reportedly has a lot of successes to its credit, but operations conducted by the IB are rarely declassified. Due to the extreme secrecy surrounding the agency, there is little concrete information available about it or its activities. The IB was trained by the Soviet KGB from the 1950s onward until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Understanding of the shadowy workings of the IB is largely speculative. Many times even members' family members are unaware of their whereabouts. One known task of the IB is to clear licences to amateur radio enthusiasts. The IB also passes intelligence between other Indian intelligence agencies and the police. The bureau also grants the necessary security clearances to Indian diplomats and judges before they take the oath. On rare occasions, IB officers interact with the media during a crisis. The IB is also rumoured to intercept and open around 6,000 letters daily. It also has an email spying system similar to the FBI's Carnivore system.[8] The bureau is authorised to conduct wiretapping without a warrant.[9]

The IB was initially India's internal and external intelligence agency. Due to lapses on the part of the Intelligence Bureau to predict the Sino-Indian War of 1962, and later on, intelligence failure in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, it was bifurcated in 1968 and entrusted with the task of internal intelligence only. The external intelligence branch was handed to the newly created the Research and Analysis Wing.[10]

The IB operated a counterintelligence programme to prevent the CIA from gathering information about the preparations and activities related to the Indian nuclear weapons project, before the Pokhran-II nuclear tests.[11]

The IB had mixed success in counterterrorism. It was reported in 2008 that the IB had been successful in busting terror modules. It alerted the police before the Hyderabad blasts and gave repeated warnings of a possible attack on Mumbai through the sea before the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. On the whole, however, the IB came in for some sharp criticism by the media after the relentless wave of terror attacks in 2008. The government came close to sacking top intelligence officials soon after the 26/11 attacks, because of serious lapses that led to the 2008 Mumbai attacks.[12] Heavy politics, under-funding and a shortage of field agents were the chief problems facing the agency. The overall strength of the agency is believed to be around 25,000, with 3500-odd field agents operating in the entire country. Of these, many were engaged in political intelligence.[13][14]

Since 2014, the IB has undergone many reforms and changes. One of the biggest reforms was the cessation of internal political espionage. The agency has also boosted its infrastructure and recruited more agents.[15][16] It has been successful in stopping the earlier pattern of frequent terror attacks in India.[17] The agency has also been successful in counterintelligence.

Media portrayal

The Intelligence Bureau has been depicted in films such as Bad Aur Badnam (Hindi, 1984), Mukhbiir (Hindi, 2008), Vandae Maatharam (Tamil, 2010), Kahaani (Hindi, 2012), Jism 2 (Hindi, 2012), Iru Mugan (Tamil, 2016), and Spyder (Tamil, Telugu, 2017) and IB71.

The IB also featured in the Sony TV Series Yudh, starring Amitabh Bachchan.

See also




  1. ^ "MHA gets Rs 1.96 lakh crores in Budget-2023; focus on women safety, police modernisation". The Print.
  2. ^ "Intelligence Bureau (IB) - India Intelligence Agencies". 30 May 2008. Archived from the original on 26 November 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  3. ^ ""National Security" for whom?". Economic and Political Weekly: 7–8. 5 June 2015.
  4. ^ ""National Security" for whom?". Economic and Political Weekly: 7–8. 5 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Tapan Deka is new IB chief, RAW secretary Samant Goel gets 1-yr extension". Hindustantimes. 24 June 2022. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  6. ^ "Explain Intelligence Bureau's legality, HC tells Centre". The Times of India. 26 March 2012. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Nehchal Sandhu new IB director". The Indian Express. 26 November 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Republic of India". Archived from the original on 3 December 2010.
  9. ^ "The secret world of phone tapping". India Today. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  10. ^ Shaffer, Ryan (2015). "Unraveling India's Foreign Intelligence: The Origins and Evolution of the Research and Analysis Wing". International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. 28 (2): 252–289. doi:10.1080/08850607.2015.992754. S2CID 154372472.
  11. ^ Richelson, Jeffrey (2007). "Pokhran Surprise". Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393329827. India's success in preventing U.S. spy satellites from seeing signs of the planned tests days to weeks in advance was matched by its success in preventing acquisition of other types of intelligence. India's Intelligence Bureau ran an aggressive counterintelligence program, and the CIA, despite a large station in New Delhi, was unable to recruit a single Indian with information about the Vajpayee government's nuclear plans.
  12. ^ "IB, R&AW brass almost got the sack after 26/11". Archived from the original on 17 July 2012.
  13. ^ "New IB chief has his task cut out - Thaindian News". 9 December 2008. Archived from the original on 15 March 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  14. ^ Sudha Ramachandran. "Security cracks and the remedy". Archived from the original on 6 January 2010.
  15. ^ "1,800 Sashastra Seema Bal personnel to move to Intelligence Bureau". Economic Times. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Immigration rush: Intelligence Bureau to hire 550 ex-CAPF personnel at airports". EconomicTimes. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  17. ^ "40 kilograms of explosives: Thwarting a nightmare at Pulwama". OneIndia. Retrieved 29 May 2020.

Further reading