In The Ultimate Goal, Vikram Sood, former chief of India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), explains 'the narrative' and how a country's ability to construct, sustain and control narratives, at home and abroad, enhances its strength and position. Intelligence agencies invariably play a critical role in this, an often-indispensable tool of statecraft.
A 'narrative' may not necessarily be based on truth, but it does need to be plausible, have a meaning and create the desired perception. During most of the twentieth century, intelligence agencies helped shape narratives favorable to their countries' agendas through literature, history, drama, art, music and cinema. Today, social media has become crucial to manipulating, countering or disrupting narratives, with its ability to spread fake news disinformation, and provoke reactions.