Spy from Unaula –Interrogation

While penning my book ‘Spy from Unaula’ I have touched upon the ways war prisoners were interrogated. While there are conventions and agreements that govern this part of prisoner’s of war popularly known as POWs, the hatred generated during the war many times do not allow the soldiers on either side to remain bound by the convention. There has been an innumerable instance of war crimes where soldiers did not follow the rules of war and inflicted harrowing pains and causalities on the POWs and civilians.


When countries are at war, they are trained to respond in situations when they are taken captives. It usually starts with their rank and number to even misleading the interrogators if there is a need for that. My father used to tell me some interesting management facts through the lens of POW interrogation. While I did not appreciate those inputs three decades back, I do it very much now.

The most interesting fact that he told me was the morale of the enemy can be judged by the responses they get from the interrogation. The responses could vary from breaking down completely, start cursing their own leadership to as desperate as asking for asylum.

This is extremely important as no amount of military hardware can win a war if the army is not having good morale. Deception plays a key role in wars. While a loosing enemy would tell all sorts of fairy tales of imaginary success against the enemy and suppress truth to keep the morale of their ranks high, leaders who are aware may often try to find an escape route for themselves. This is where the difference comes when a true leader stands tall and faces the truth and works around to turn the tables. This is amply true in corporate world too where large corporates go down quickly due to low morale and lack of leadership that can stand tall and face the truth.

In this world of huge data crunching and analytics government spy agencies use the power of super computers to find information out of billions of data crisscrossing through different modes every day. Those days, it was very different. There were no computers and really intelligent set of people would spend day and night adding up the facts and inputs from several sources to come out with credible information. One such information that was a masterpiece of analysis by Indian spies and analysts was the information of the meeting of Pakistani top brass in the city town hall in Dhaka. It was this information that led to bombing of the Dhaka town hall that was considered impossible by anyone who had faintest idea of the Dhaka layout. My book mentions this episode and provides some facts that the generation today can appreciate the mammoth challenges our spies faced those days, while today it might be seen as very simple due to technological advancements.

Today when I compare those situations to the corporate world of today, there are so many parallels drawn. The morale of employees, the need for upright and courageous leader, the right and just mission, the capability to analyze the data into meaningful information and quick action to gain tactical and strategic advantage. War always intrigued me, not because of the destruction and miseries it brought but the lessons it taught us every time. It is pity; human beings forget it all very quickly.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by IndiasGreatest.com ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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