16 October 2018 ~ 0 Comments

Modi’s security strategy

Modi’s security strategy
In the last lap of the Modi sarkar before the 2019 general elections, the government is effecting a major revamp of the national security architecture. Over the past few months, the government has constituted the Defence Planning Committee (DPC), increased the budget for the National Security Council Secretariat, and reconstituted the Strategic Policy Group (SPG) to assist the National Security Council. With three Deputy National Security Advisors, a military advisor and a dedicated think tank to study China, these measures aim to lay down India’s defence strategy to meet current and future challenges.

According to sources, these changes are the outcome of a comprehensive review of the national security structure ordered by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) last year. The reaction to these measures has been decidedly mixed. Much of this tends to look at the rise and rise of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who has emerged even more powerful after the government decided to bring back the Strategic Policy Group. Earlier, the group was chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, but now Doval has replaced P.K. Sinha who will now report to him on this issue!
It is perhaps the first time in the country and since the creation of the post of National Security Advisor in 1998 that the senior-most bureaucrats, the three chiefs of the armed forces are reporting to an ex-IPS officer (Doval). The appointment of two more deputy national security advisors instead of just one in the previous arrangement too, make Doval’s role even more powerful than before, say most insiders.

Though some would argue that since the NSA holds the rank of Minister of State and is therefore above the Cabinet Secretary in the pecking order, it certainly is still something a bit strange to have the Head of the national civil service “report” to the NSA. If the NSA is so indispensable to the Modi sarkar, wouldn’t it be better to simply include him as a member of the Union Cabinet? Some even fear that the sudden revival of the Strategic Policy Group may invest too much power in the National Security Advisor, creating an eventual imbalance at the top.
All these are of course matters of debate. But is there enough time for the Defence Planning Committee to show what it can achieve before we are overtaken by next year’s election fever? Seems unlikely, but there is no doubt that Doval is now at the heart of the Modi sarkar’s bid to firm up India’s security framework for the long haul.

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