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Who is India's NSA Ajit Doval and what is the 'Doval Doctrine'?

The 'Doval Doctrine' Named After Him In Two Lectures Delivered In 2014 And 2015. Two Important Lectures Delivered By Doval On National Security Constitute The Core Of The ‘Doval Doctrine’.

By : Bindiya Bhatt | Updated on: 27 Sep 2016, 10:33:36 AM
Ajit Doval (Source: Getty)

New Delhi:

1. "India has a mentality to punch below its weight. We should not punch below our weight or above our weight, but improve our weight and punch proportionately."

2. "Do not overreact (on Kashmir unrest), it will pass off as they cannot sustain beyond a point."

3. "The supreme interest of the country has to be protected."

4. "The war is on till we are victorious"

5. "If you make a provocation, you are partly responsible. But if you are not able to exercise power, it is as good as not having it."

6. “You may do one Mumbai; you may lose Balochistan.”

These are the famous statements given by India's National Security Advisor Ajit Kumar Doval during his public appearances in the last five years. 

In the wake of deadly terror attack on Army camp in Kashmir's Uri sector on Sunday, there is a rising demand from every corner of the country to take strong action against Pakistan.

In another debate in online media, netizens are also saying that the Narendra Modi government is following the 'Doval Doctrine' while dealing with the 'enemy' nations in our neighbourhood. Many other people have a different view that the 'Doval Doctrine' is the only solution if India is serious to end the menace of terrorism coming from country's western border.    

Let's understand what is the 'Doval doctrine', and from where it emerged-

Who is Ajit Doval?

Ajit Kumar Doval is a 1968-batch IPS officer who has also served as the director of Intelligence Bureau (IB). Doval was characterised by AS Dulat, the former head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), as 'the hawkish Ajit Doval'. He’s known to be a hawkish thinker who has carried out multiple covert missions in his career as an IB agent.

Infiltration into the then underground Mizo National Front to win over its top commanders, walk into the Golden Temple in Amritsar posing as a Pakistani agent before the Operation Black Thunder in 1988 to obtain intelligence, and a seven-year tour of duty in Pakistan - these are the key highlights of Doval's career as an Indian agent. 

As India's National Security Advisor, he provided key background for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trips to the US, Australia, Myanmar, Fiji and the engagement with South Asia and European countries.

Doval believes, “In a changing world order India is engaging powers who have conflicting views. So we engage China and Japan as well as Russia and the United States.”

Covering a slew of issues that have dominated India’s security concerns, Doval also underlined Modí government’s focus on emerging technological threats from cyberspace.

What is 'Doval Doctrine'?

The 'Doval Doctrine' named after him in two lectures delivered in 2014 and 2015. Two important lectures delivered by Doval on national security constitute the core of the ‘Doval Doctrine’.

1. Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture at Shastra University, Tanjore, in February 2014,

2. Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture on ‘State Security Statecraft and Conflict of Values’ at Mumbai in August 2015.

He has delineated his approach to Pakistani terrorism through the 2 lectures and this constitutes the core of the 'Doval Doctrine'.

Watch Video: Ajit Doval giving lecture on strategic response to terrorism at Sastra University, Tanjore, in February 2014

Watch Video: Ajit Doval at Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture lecture at Mumbai in August 2015

In short, Doval believes the enemy is to be engaged at 3 levels- 

A. Defensive, 

B. Defensive-offensive, 

C. Offensive modes. 

On Pakistan

According to him, the ‘defensive’ mode is ineffective and irrelevant. Doval says, "India needs to go into the 'offensive-defensive' mode when dealing with a rogue state like Pakistan. India should tackle the problem where it originated." 
And to make it clear, he used the famous phrase: "You may do one Mumbai; you may lose Balochistan."

On Terror groups

On the issue of terror organisations, Doval says these outfits could be bought with money, weapons and manpower. These groups can be managed with the use of high technology and intelligence-driven covert operations. 
Doval also believes that individual morality should not be imposed on the larger values of the state. 
The core of the 'Doval Doctrine' can be seen in the statement - "Either Pakistan give up terrorism against India as a state policy or India would let it bleed with the Taliban".

On Kashmir unrest

According to him, the values of the state are above the values of any individual. His message is clear that the policy of appeasement will not work while dealing with issue of Kashmir. 
"Do not overreact (on Kashmir unrest), it will pass off as they cannot sustain beyond a point," he had said on Kashmir issue in 2010.Doval's policy prescription is marked by three themes, particularly on Kashmir - 

1. Irrelevance of morality, 

2. Extremism freed from calculation or calibration,

3. Reliance on military might. 

Read More | Uri Terror Attack: 'Now time has come to teach Pakistan in its own language,' tweets India

Is it working?

Opposition parties claim that the country has not seen much clarity in Indian strategic thinking in the Narendra Modi government in the last two years. 

The critics of the 'Doval Doctrine' say that the recent terror attacks in Pathankot and Uri may be Pakistan’s response to not only the Kashmir unrest but also India’s 'Defensive Offence' over the issue of Balochistan.

The latest attack in Uri in which 18 soldiers were killed brings into question the Doval Doctrine's implications. Isn't the Uri attack the Pakistani army’s way of telling India: “Say what you want, we will keep doing it.”

The idea of 'Doval Doctrine' puts a disproportionate pressure on government to compensate for the strategic weaknesses. This framework does not help peace-building and it neglects the traditional tools of diplomacy.

What's next?

Uri attack is a big question mark on the Modi government's policy towards Pakistan. Should India continue its 'Defensive Offence' approach against Pakistan? Is there an immediate need to change India's approach to strategically fight Pakistan sponsored terrorism?

In short the big question is that, should India continue with the so-called 'Doval Doctrine'?

Please share your comments in the comment box below or take a poll here:


(With inputs from Quartz, Atimes, Quora)

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Uri Terror Attack: 'Now time has come to teach Pakistan in its own language,' tweets India

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First Published : 20 Sep 2016, 12:43:00 PM