Monday, June 23, 2014

The mind of Ajit Doval

Much has been said about the exploits of Ajit Doval, the new National Security Advisor, as a spook. He's said to be the only Intelligence Bureau chief to have been awarded the Kirti  Chakra for bravery. One has read that he penetrated the Golden Temple posing as an ISI officer, managed to get into a dargah in Pakistan disguised as a Muslim, negotiated the surrender of Naga militants and also negotiated the release of the hostages on board the Indian Airlines plane in Kandahar.

No doubt about the man's prowess as a spook. The interesting question now is: what are his views on major issues of national security? An article in the Hindu provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind of Mr Doval. Here are some interesting snippets:

“I consider infiltration of Bangladeshis the biggest internal security problem. Bangladesh supports the demographic invasion of India.”

In his view, “the most effective way of dealing with terrorism would be to identify boys who have got the courage of conviction to match that of the fidayeens and who are capable of taking risks. Identify them and put them in action".

Mr. Doval does not trust the United States — as is typical in officers of his generation. He warns that the U.S. “will seek to outsource their counter-terrorism to Pakistan” as they withdraw from Afghanistan. He was scathing of the U.S.-India nuclear deal, bitterly warning in 2006 that “it will stunt India’s emergence as a genuine nuclear weapon state, cripple its strategic deterrence, and reduce it to a US satrapy.” 

I found Mr Doval's views on the Indo-US nuclear deal striking. On the face of it, Mr Doval appears to be have missed an important fact: the deal is not about nuclear energy or even nuclear weapons alone. It is about getting access to advanced US technologies that can help propel economic growth. Or does Mr Doval think that even the latter is not crucial to India?


chandramouli said...

If one has to commence tenure as NSA one should rid of pre-conceived notions, which leads to distortions in the analysis of the current situation. I hope Mr. Doval does not act apply his existing mind-set and ideas to the present and goes from situation to situation with an open mind.

T T Ram Mohan said...

Thanks Chandramouli for your comments and also for your kind words about my post on IIMC. I have heard of the great Kalki but have not had the pleasure of reading him.


Anonymous said...

Got here by accident. You have done no research on the nuclear deal. Let us think of reasons why Mr Doval might have a problem with the deal.

A) Lets us go back to NPT. India's entire stance is that NPT is discriminatory. India proclaims it will not enter into any agreement which reduces its rights with respect to nuclear haves in any way.
However 123 agreement is discriminatory wrt India in multiple ways. I'll give you one example. US can convert any of its declared civil nuclear institution into military and remove it from IAEA inspection. India has no such freedom, all declared civil institutions will remain civil forever unless India breaks the 123 agreement. This is just one example, there are many more. Our previous government was quite dishonest with public in this aspect.

B) Reprocessing of spent fuel (closed fuel cycle) has been an issue. US, China etc all have rights to reprocess all the fuel they buy. For India this is an issue of debate, with Australia, Japan etc having strong reservations. Problem is that this aspect is in grey area in 123 agreement and substituent NSG waiver terms that India has agreed to.

C) Biggest issue is 3 stage nuclear program. India has since 1960s a very clear path of nuclear evolution till 2150. You can read up wiki on that. The 123 agreement is based on the principle that the stated plan for India's nuclear evolution is not fast enough. So India is moving towards light water reactors running on imported fuel. Problem is that this makes us dependent on whims and fancies of USA, Canada, Australia etc all of which have heavily sanctioned us in past. Also, the light water reactors are not very safe and are exorbitantly expansive. This means heavy investment by India and thus India is exposing itself to western blackmail for future. So there is a genuine cause of concern.

This heavy investment in light water plants means we have shelved our three stage plan for now, which could have propelled us into thorium cycle crucial for the future nuclear independence.

d) However, 'liability clause' has been a masterstroke for India. Thsi ensures that none of the plans are actually feasible now, while states like Russia, France who have agreed to liability (partially), right to closed fuel cycle by India and also fuel guarantee in any circumstance, have got the projects. This is totally in our interest.

Anonymous said...

As far as getting US technologies is concerned, I totally agree. This was needed. This is why I think nuclear deal is moving forward the way it is.

Liability clause filters the bad effect of nuclear deal by making such projects economically in feasible.

At the same time, this deal is the first step towards us getting into control regimes like Wassenaar Arrangement. We have to walk a tight rope now, but I agree with Mr Doval that wrt nuclear tech, we should focus on 3 stage plan. To be honest we can gain nothing from USA here as we are more advanced than they are in Thorium cycle (This is not a frivolous claim)

Other than that, USA doesnt give much of the technology to Britain or Canada so if we think we might get something revolutionary like "single crystal blade" tech or "AESA tech" etc ever from USA, it is delusional. Never going to happen.

By the way I am just an engineer, also fresh out of college, so I might be wrong at places, but I believe crux of what I am saying is more or less correct.