A dark shadow on New Delhi’s credibility – India’s Credibility Crisis: The Shadowy World of Espionage and Public Diplomacy | 5 December 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about India's credibility crisis in terms of both covert capacity and public messaging in the international arena.


  • GS2: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora
  • Interview


  • The recent indictment of an Indian national by the United States Department of Justice for targeting wanted Khalistani separatists in North America has cast a dark shadow on India's credibility in terms of both covert capacity and public messaging.
  • The allegations, which have yet to be proven in court, have raised concerns about India's willingness to engage in extra-judicial killings and its ability to maintain trust with its allies.


  • History of Controversial Operations:
    • The indictment comes on the heels of a number of other controversial operations involving Indian intelligence agencies in recent years.
    • These operations have included the forcible return of a United Arab Emirates princess from international waters, the attempted kidnap of a businessman from Antigua, and the conviction of eight Indian naval officers in Qatar for espionage.
    • While the Indian government has not officially acknowledged or condemned any of these operations, it has not denied that they may have taken place.
  • The U.S. Indictment: A Breach of Trust:
    • The U.S. indictment against Nikhil Gupta, the Indian national accused of targeting Khalistani separatists, alleges that he was directed by a senior government intelligence official. The indictment also accuses the FBI and DEA of entrapping Gupta by providing him with an undercover officer to act as a hitman.
    • The U.S. government's decision to indict Gupta has been seen as a breach of trust between the U.S. and India. The indictment has also raised questions about the extent of U.S.-India intelligence cooperation.
  • India's Double Standard:
    • India's response to the U.S. indictment has been criticized for its inconsistency. While India has condemned the Canadian government's allegations of Indian involvement in the attempted firebombing of its San Francisco consulate, it has been more muted in its response to the U.S. allegations.
    • This double standard has been seen as evidence that India is willing to tolerate covert operations by its intelligence agencies when it suits its interests. However, it has also damaged India's reputation as a responsible and law-abiding country.
  • Impact on India's Image:
    • The allegations against India have the potential to damage its image on the world stage. India has long projected itself as a responsible and law-abiding country. However, the recent allegations have called this into question.
    • The allegations have also strained India's relationships with its allies. The U.S., Canada, and other countries have expressed concerns about India's willingness to engage in extra-judicial killings.

Way Forward:

  • India needs to take a number of steps to address the concerns raised by the recent allegations. First, it needs to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the allegations. Second, it needs to clearly articulate its policy on covert operations. Third, it needs to work to rebuild trust with its allies.
  • The allegations against India are a serious matter. However, they also provide an opportunity for India to reflect on its role in the world and to make changes that will enhance its credibility and reputation

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