DPC: Doval’s Aggrandizing move?

Image result for pics of ajit doval and k. jaishankar with modi

(Jaishankar, Doval and the PM)

The Defence Planning Committee (DPC) as the apex institution to deal with national security was in the works for awhile with Modi’s original plan of splitting the NSA responsibilities between the external and internal and retaining the retired Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar for the external role, and Doval continuing with what he knows best as a police service veteran — intel and domestic security, being pushed out of contention by the man in place.  Doval succeeded in convincing the Prime Minister over time that such a move would be detrimental to national interest. Jaishankar’s retirement was the time Doval used to ensure the erstwhile FS did not get back in, whence the formation of DPC to function in effect as National Security Council (NSC) which, incidentally, has met just once or twice so far during Modi’s tenure, but with the three armed services chiefs as members.

Ideally, Doval would have wanted to be to Modi what Brajesh Mishra was to Atal Bihari Vajpayee — the person actually running the government. Except Modi is not the retiring, Scotch-loving, Vajpayee and Doval doesn’t have the personal relations with Modi that Mishra had with Vajpayee. Where Mishra could begin issuing directives, orders and instructions from  7, Race Course Road ere the clock struck eight (most evenings), Doval, as he told a Manmohan Singh-era senior official, only awaits “decisions by the boss” so that he can implement them. Doval knows his place in the Modi universe as someone who takes orders, not gives them. Were he to begin to act like Mishra did, Doval would be (1) ignored by people like the Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, PK Mishra, who personally are far closer to Modi, and (2) out on his ears.

So, the new fangled DPC was a means of getting Jaishankar out of the picture, fobbing him off with the waiver of the one-year “cooling off” rule so he can join the Tata’s as head of “global operations”. According to Sanjay Ahluwalia, ex-IAS, writing his eminently readable newspaper column, this job will fetch Jaishankar a cool six crore rupees yearly. Jaishankar’s attributes meld well with Tata’s corporate plans, for instance, its decision to be the “strategic partner” to Lockheed Martin to produce the 1960s vintage F-16 in India — which project will require’s Jaishankar’s fervent pleadings with Modi to be realized. Who is to say that, in line with the Indian government’s penchant generally to give away a lot in return for little and Modi’s own leanings, Jaishankar won’t succeed?

It is a win-win arrangement for Modi as well, who mostly prized Jaishankar for his America connections, and now feels that he will be able to complement the BJP regime’s push of a US tilted foreign policy through private sector channels. Setting India up as Washington’s poodle the PM believes is the big foreign policy achievement he can go to the people with, come the next general elections.  On this front, as in much else, he may have miscalculated because his policy of appeasing Washington has not worked a bit. Far from relenting, Trump has particularly targeted India — after all when does a punching back punch back? — as a prime subject for his bullying tactics. So no give whatsoever on the H1B/H-4 visa issues, on trade, or on transfer of advanced tech — military and civilian, and threat of sanctions via CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanction Act) for buying arms from Russia. And when elections come around he will be hard put to indicate which among his many slogan-promises he has fulfilled, or to pacify an upset middle class who, other than the emergence of an illiberal state within, find their America dream (for their IIT and IIM-trained progeny) vaporizing without.

But, coming back to Doval’s nifty bureaucratic maneuver, what will DPC do exactly? And how? DPC would have had teeth had Doval also managed to get Modi to simply eliminate a whole bunch of agencies and organizations in the national security loop, entities like the Defence Acquisitions Council. But to centralize national security decision-making and render it more effective and efficient was never the intention behind establishing the DPC. All DPC does is add another layer to an already multi-layered heavy national security decision making apparatus of state, and will not do much, other than aggrandize Doval’s personal authority and power at the sub-PM level, assuming Modi allows any of it, other than as a bureaucratic contrivance to keep his NSA busy. For Doval it is yet another excuse for things not working, and for the boss’ decisions not getting implemented. So while aggrandizing bureaucratic turf he has distanced himself even more from accountability. Fancy babu footwork!

There may also be a still more intimate reason why Doval desires to be headman of DPC — it will enable him to lord it over the military chiefs. This is important because — and what a delicious insight from a former armyman, Colonel Ali Ahmed (Retd.), a Maratha  officer like his father Lieutenant General Mohammad Zaki (Retd) of 19 Maratha Light Infantry —   who speculates that Doval as a matriculate from the Ajmer Military School (formerly King George’s Military School), having failed or, perhaps, having never tried to enter the National Defence Academy as many graduating from KG Schools did, now sees a chance to play Commander-in-Chief, India! See Çol. Ahmed’s “A policewallah as proto chief of defence staff”, The Citizen, April 26, 2018, at http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/4/13644/A-Policewallah-As-Proto-Chief-of-Defence-Staff

[I should know — I passed out of King George’s, Belgaum, in December 1963 possibly around the same time Doval  got out of KGS, Ajmer, and what a yearning there is deep down for things military that one’s cohort was part of and one has missed out on.]

There may, however, be a bigger Constitutional problem with the Defence Planning Committee, which’s pointed out by the reputed Mumbai lawyer, Niloufer Bhagwat. She wonders if  the “National Security Advisory Board has any Statutory authority?  That  is [whether] this Advisory Board   is embedded in Law / Constitution or is it a creation [by] Executive Fiat , as this has Constitutional implications as such a body cannot overrule STATUTORY or CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITIES and cannot overrule the service chiefs or preside over any committee of the Armed Forces even of junior officers as the Armed Forces are bound by the Statute and the Constitution.  This is an important question which has arisen from the [establishment] of the Defense Planning Committee and has Constitutional Law and Administrative Law implications.”

Apparently, when Messrs Modi & Doval were creating the DPC they were not paying attention to Constitutional proprieties. I mean, did the DPC proposal pass muster with  the Ministry of Law and Justice under Ravi Shankar Prasad? Depending on who wants to take the Modi govt to court on this issue, the DPC may be racing towards a legal limbo.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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18 Responses to DPC: Doval’s Aggrandizing move?

  1. Akhil says:

    Prof. how would you rate Brajesh Mishra,Mr. Narayanan,Mr. Menon and Mr. Doval as NSAs on a scale of 1-10 on the basis of their individual merit and commitment as babus to hold the office( but not on the basis of their influence over their respective bosses.)

    Do you think the fact that Mr. Vajpayee’s and Brajesh Mishra’s were Brahmins from UP and had the habit of having a drink together helped Mr. Mishra’s case of getting his sweet revenge on the MEA for sabotaging his prospects of becoming Foreign Secretary?

    Was Mishra really against the post of NSA as envisioned by K.Subrahmanyam?

    • Vajpayee, a close friend, was sought to be recruited into Congress party by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister DP Mishra, failing which DP put up a weak Congress candidate in Gwalior constituency, enabling Vajpayee to win. A whole basket of such Vajpayee IOUs led to DP’s son, Brajesh Mishra being appointed perm Rep at UN, NY by Vajpayee, external affrs min in Janata Party govt after the Emergency, and NSA once Vajpayee became PM.

      Of the 5 NSAs — Mishra, Mani Dixit, MK Narayanan, Shivshankar Menon and Doval, there have been 3 diplomats, and 2 policemen — but no strategist! Precisely, the reason why K Subrahmanyam opposed Mishra’s appointment as concurrently PPS to the prime minister and NSA.

      • AKHIL says:

        From your work i have come to understand that Mr.K Subrahmanyam was a fairly good civilian strategist, but how come he never held any top office?

        What was the true bone of contention between the former batch mates Mr.Mishra and Mr.Subrahmanyam?

        One final question. Do Generals make good raksha mantris?

  2. Appu Kamath says:

    A very well analysed article by Bharat Karnad. Just think does Doval have the intellect, strategic vision, knowledge to coordinated all elements of national power to take on the two and half front war? If he really loved the country he should have refrained from accepting the appointment unless he knew that it is a perfunctory organisation that would soon go into a constitutional limbo? The PM due to his own lack of knowledge and experience in matters of strategy has naively put his trust in a person, who is more naive than him. It is better Doval sticks to those things that he has done in the past and do not bite the meat that he cannot chew. It would only choke him and blunt the nation’s sword arm.

  3. Meera Paul says:

    Very interesting! Thanks And Jai Hind!

  4. Abhi says:

    This Article is speculative tangents drawn at its best.:-)
    I just hope the above involved really gave this serious thought as much Mr. Karnad gave.

  5. Akhil@ — The last significant post K. Subrahmanyam held in GOI was Secretary, Defence Production in the 1980s and was thereafter shunted off to IDSA where he remained for long.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      From where he continued to sow his asinine theories on deterrence. Often formal posts aren’t that important, Deng’s last post in China was the president of the Chinese bridge association. Here bridge is the card game ad not the structure. The Italian held no official post in the GoI. Yet she was privy to classified files and even influenced critical policy.

  6. Kya says:

    IN the whole decade of 80s when usa was using China against russia it was usa and her stooge inside India who were forcing Indian govt. To be very friendly to China and be distant to Russia; So much so that they forced rajiv Gandhi to accept Tibet as part of China in autumn 1988

    There was a chairman of Ficci who was also owner of ranbaxy,some sikh who was daily telling that India should be freindly to china and not russia -all because americans wanted that way.americans wanted that way !.Then in 90s he was telling india to demand goods in hard currency from Russia because of rouble devaluation.
    That sardar was also pushing for less military expenditure in india.
    You can check that in many papers and weekly journals of mid 89s about that.
    Such are the so called coolie elites of India -a lackey breed of lowest kind.

    ******
    ——-*********************(((

    China should not get trapped

    Unfortunately India , under american prompting is doing exactly opposite to that -Indua is sabotaging one belt one road initiative of china out of jelousy and out of obligation to serve her new masters the americans.
    India is a trojan horse which must be kicked out of Brucs and SCO.
    —–***,*************************

    By Ignoring Pakistan-US relation in terms of Afghanistan and India , you are ignoring the root cause of Terrorism in Afghanistan exist today and for past 15 years , India and Russia cannot ignore that fact and NATO/US still has their physical presense in AF-PAK region and US still bankrolls Pakistan in guise of it supporting US troops in Afghanistan.

    ———&*******************0

    Russia’s first major export to India was the MiG-21 Mach 2 fighter that changed the balance of air power in the subcontinent’s sky. Since India couldn’t afford to buy the jet, Moscow offered liberal finance that could repaid over several decades. The MiG-21 was also the first weapon offered for
    license production to a developing country.

    Since then Russia has offered India paradigm shifting weapons such as nuclear powered submarines, cryogenic engines, warships and supersonic missiles for licence production and in-country development.

    ——*****************—–”’–‘-”

    there are about 3 mill indians in US? that looks big, but actually really small compared to total population of India. In UK there are less than 3/ 4th of a million Hindus . Rest are avoed anti indian khalistani sikhs or pakis.
    Still these constituencies are overrepresntated in pushing India for being doormat to the west.

    ____*****************************

    It is Indian elites who are responsible for distance between russia and India.
    For last several years is seen that just before the Indian Pm goes to states in his annual pilgrimage he awards billion dollar contract for American junk.
    In fact many Indians are openly pumping for old rusty f16 .And they have temerity to make fun of mug 35 or su35 and t50 which all were offered to India.
    Indians elites are dogs barking for American interests.
    Thing was it was in Indian interest that Russia China and India trip fight against Anglo American bullying.
    Opposite has hsppend with India.
    American boot licking elites of India were induced by English language media to do lies and propaganda against China.
    And they expe t China to support Indian in resolution ? .
    Instead of blaming Pakistan do Indians think that they have guts to blame Americans for still giving 900 million arms aid just now? 
    By what right India thinks she has right To ask russia not to laid on with Pakistan when Indians have shamelessly opted for all pacts with us at adropof head without much discussion ? 
    Russia must not give s400 and t50 to such treacherous country as my India

    ___________________

    About trumps plan to tighten misuse of H-1B visa.

    India is shamelessly forging relationships with Russia’s arch enemy the United States; by allowing the U.S. to use Indian bases and now India is buying billions of more weapons from the United States than Russia; but here you are ignorantly talking about ‘interests of India’. India has used Russia more than Russia has ever needed anything from India — from using Russia for the U.N. veto power to purchasing weapons. Russia has now realized how selfish India is!

    Narendra modi now gives bribes to usa in form of immediate decisipn to buy spy infested american junk weaponary costing billions of dollars all within 2 years without any tender.

    “”””””http://zeenews.india.com/india/pm-narendra-modi-clears-rs-17000-crore-air-defence-missile-deal-with-israel_1980214.html

    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””” cc
    Great that India is forced to wean from this immigration and Hi-B ( sounds aids virus) visa tests.What are the Indian engineers doing except in I T ? India needs defence engineers which she can not get because Indian education system produces people who can work only as collie for foreigners.
    Total of 100 billion revenue out of 1300 billion GDP is not something for which India sacrifices her respect talent and yes independent foreign policy.Have you ever wondered that India got close to USA in last twenty years exactly at the time when America got the reputation of a rogue bully and frankly a terrorist state.India calling such state as dear freind speaks volume how low India can go to peruse a few dollars which usa prints out from thin air.

    ______””’-”-”’–“””””””””””””””:”””””””

    Good for India who will be forced to chAnge from rose tinted glass of globalisation and liberalisation which itself is out of fashion in The west but worshipped now God in india by traitor elites.
    Besides Indian education system and economic model is now based on producing skilled cookie to work for white men abroad rather than work for India in india.
    That will not be realistic model and India will be forced to cater to her Indian needs.
    We need many engineers in defence railways infrastructure and aerospace.
    Not as it clerks though.

    “””””””””””””””””””””””-“-“”-“‘”” xxxxxxxxxx

    India is shamelessly forging relationships with Russia’s arch enemy the United States; by allowing the U.S. to use Indian bases and now India is buying billions of more weapons from the United States than Russia; but here you are ignorantly talking about ‘interests of India’. India has used Russia more than Russia has ever needed anything from India — from using Russia for the U.N. veto power to purchasing weapons. Russia has now realized how selfish India is!

    “”””””

    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””” cc
    Great that India is forced to wean from this immigration and Hi-B ( sounds aids virus) visa tests.What are the Indian engineers doing except in I T ? India needs defence engineers which she can not get because Indian education system produces people who can work only as collie for foreigners.
    Total of 100 billion revenue out of 1300 billion GDP is not something for which India sacrifices her respect talent and yes independent foreign policy.Have you ever wondered that India got close to USA in last twenty years exactly at the time when America got the reputation of a rogue bully and frankly a terrorist state.India calling such state as dear freind speaks volume how low India can go to peruse a few dollars which usa prints out of thin air BTW.
    —–‘——-”””-”””””””””””’
    First attempt of ISRO’s with Cryogenic engine for GSLV were unsuccessful in April 2001. After that, ISRO had tested 8 flights with Cryogenic engine; out of which 5 flew with Russian engine. The first successful test-flight using the indigenous engine happened in January 2014

    ____________________

  7. Kya says:


    Secretary K. Jaishankar and the Ministry of External Affairs that the Indian government
    Have always been clueless relying on crutches of American vassal state after Modi or previous pm bribes Americans with billion dollar worth of order for American and British military junk.
    No wonder with such ineffective functionaries India has had no friend in last 39 years.they annoyed the only freind Russia.
    In mid 80s India had to rely on tennis star Vijay amritraj to plead Indian case before American Shultz because Indians had no guts or status to talk to Americans at that time when Americans were finding the Taliban and Sikh terrorists in 80s
    —-_________________^_________€____

    Yes India under MMS lost it’s neighbours Myanmar and Sri Lanka while trying to please the Americans and the ‘West’. US wanted India to sanctimoniously preach democrazy and (in)human rights in Myanmar. India followed orders. Myanmar ended up on China’s lap. And India on the insistence of ‘west’ took anti Lanka stand in various international forums. Lanka today is Chinese outpost. And delayed construction of chabahar port in Iran under Amriki pressure. Modi being a status quoist will continue to be in the good books of the ‘west;’

    __—****************(*(((((((((

  8. Kya says:

    Indian NSA are always traitor types starting from brajesh mishra .

    Better die standing, than live crawling.

    Indian NSAs always facilitate US covert actions in India:Mishra with Rabinder Singh, Neroyanan with David Headley and Menon with Richards family. It shows how far the rot has eaten into the Indian frame when after the DK outrage,some Indians in the media and govt. still describe the US as our principal ally.
    Now we have another foreign boitlicker the by name of ajit Doval

    The old saying by Voltaire holds good especially for the US:”Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.”

  9. Kya says:

    Better die standing, than live crawling.

    India is increasingly being run by culturally and intellectually illiterate technocrat -nerds who have no comprehension of the history and culture of their own people let alone the world. This is what happens when you call intelctual or educated to somebody who is an MA or Ph.D. in economics or business administration . -In our days we called them MARWARIS . ========================================================== That brings us to the classic Peter Principle: “in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties” and “work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence”.

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