[Organisation] National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO)

NTRO was conceived as a Premier scientific organization, yet it continues to be more or less in a state of limbo.

Background

National Technical Research Organisation is premier scientific agency under the National Security Adviser. It was set up in 2004. The National Technical Research Organisation, originally known as the National Technical Facilities Organisation (NTFO), is highly specialized technical intelligence gathering agency.


The agency develops technology capabilities in aviation and remote sensing, data gathering and processing, cyber security, cryptology systems, strategic hardware andsoftware development and strategic monitoring.



In what Circumstances, NTRO was conceived?

The following points provide information on the genesis of NTRO (National Technical Research Organisation) and why it was conceived:
  • It was conceived in the post Kargil period.
  • It is in those times that a group of ministers headed by the then deputy PM L.K. Advani decided to set up a task force on the revamp of India’s intelligence apparatus.
  • This task force was headed by G.C. Saxena, former chief of R&AW and the then governor, Jammu and Kashmir. Findings and recommendations of the GC Saxena task force:
    • The task force found huge gaps in the technical intelligence (techint) capabilities of our agencies, both defence and civil.
    • There were two ways to fill this gap: the allocation of additional resources to each of the several agencies to build their respective capabilities, or to set up a new techint agency. It was envisaged that this agency would function in a neutral manner, without itself acquiring the role of an intelligence agency. The task force opted for the latter.
    • The seed of the National Technical Facilities Organisation (NTFO) was thus sown, yet, it took several years to issue the classified (top secret) notification before NTFO could be created in 2004.
    • It was meant to attract the best multi-discipline scientific, technical and intelligence talent from within the country and abroad to set up world-class SIGINT, IMINT, CyberINT and cryptography facilities based on cutting-edge technologies.
    • Its inputs were meant to be shared with the various intelligence agencies in real time.
    • The chairman of the NTFO was given considerable discretion in the areas of appointments and acquisitions.
  • To give the organisation greater freedom to fulfil its mandate, it was placed directly under the NSA and the PMO.
  • At the instance of its first Chairman NTFO was renamed as NTRO.


Evaluation of the success/failures of NTRO


NTRO inherited a number of R&AW’s techint assets. An unhealthy rivalry over division of men and material between the parent body, i.e. R&AW and the newborn agency, NTRO has unfortunately set in.

NTRO has been bogged down by serious teething troubles, with squabbles among itshybrid cadres, brought in from the scientific (drawn mainly from the DRDO), intelligence and defence services, accentuated by the absence of approved recruitment rules.

It has also been inundated by a spate of complaints and media leaks by disgruntled and unscrupulous elements, who have been trying to push their personal agendas at the cost of the organization’s future. The appointment of a suitable person to the post of its chairman has been an issue.

Thus NTRO continues to be more or less in a state of limbo, performing far below its potential.

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