In his almost five years as prime minister, Narendra Modi has surrounded himself with a few handpicked men to keep an eye on security-related matters.
In his four-and-a-half years as the national security adviser (NSA) to Narendra Modi, Ajit Doval has emerged as the closest aide of the prime minister.
His rise as the most powerful bureaucrat in the country can be seen from the fact that he has been elevated as the head of the Strategic Policy Group to assist the National Security Council and help with developing a long-term strategic defence review. The post was earlier headed by the cabinet secretary.
From managing the extradition of AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel and preparing for the surgical strikes across the borders in Pakistan and Myanmar, the NSA has been involved in almost each and every national and international operation carried out by the security agencies.
When the government was not able to put across its views on the Rafale issue with clarity, Doval had to intervene and he coordinated closely with the bureaucracy in the Indian Air Force and defence ministry.
In the Christian Michel extradition, Doval used his close ties with the UAE leadership and convinced them on why Michel should be sent to India. The NSA was keenly monitoring the day-to-day developments of the case and worked to ensure that Michel does not give them a slip this time as he had been doing in the past. He was also coordinating between the intelligence and investigative agencies who were working on the case.
General Bipin Rawat
As Indian Army chief, Gen Rawat has been at the forefront of the success achieved by the security forces in eliminating the terror leadership in the Kashmir valley. In 2018, more than 250 terrorists including 12 top commanders have been killed. The chief is also credited for taking the fight to the enemy positions in cases of ceasefire violations.
Due to the sensitive handling and still amicably resolving the Doklam crisis, Gen Rawat showed that he is not all about aggression and understands the delicate security situation in the northern borders and still ensuring that India’s position is not compromised.
The Indian Army chief played a vital role in the whole situation to ensure that the Chinese were not able to use their military to pressurise India by carrying out incursions into the Indian territory. The army chief ensured that the government was on a strong wicket on the talking table. With over 10 years experience in counter-insurgency operations along the Line of Control including leading the surgical strikes in Myanmar, the government found Gen Rawat the best-suited man to counter India’s main security challenge in form of terrorism.
The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief is known to be silent as a submarine in his operations. When the entire country was sulking over the possible loss of Maldives and Sri Lanka to China in the recent past, Anil Dhasmana was quietly working below the radar to convince the administrations there to take care of Indian security interests too.
He played a crucial role in the extradition of the AgustaWestland scam accused Christian Michel from the United Arab Emirates. The RAW chief had also been working closely with his Emirates’ counterparts to enhance their security cooperation in the region.
He has served on the Pakistan desk of RAW and specialises in this region. He also served in London and Berlin and has kept a hawk’s eye on the growing Sikh radical activities there. For his good work and achievements, he has been given a six-month extension by the government.
Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Jain has been given a six-month extension by the NDA government for the good work that he has been carrying out throughout the past two years. These include the extradition of over 100 fugitives from across the world and taking out a number of Islamic terrorists who were planning to carry out attacks within the country.
The IB under Jain has also been successful in handling the Indian Muslims who had gone to join the Islamic State. The careful handling has also ensured that the number of Indians going to the conflict zone remains limited and those who returned were also sent for rehabilitation.
India’s foreign secretary led the diplomatic efforts on the Doklam front in Beijing. Highly placed sources said he used his diplomatic skills to persuade the Chinese.
During his stint in Beijing as India’s ambassador, his role in Doklam crisis ensured that the crisis which had all the characteristics of blowing up into a major disaster was resolved amicably.
The 1981-batch Indian Foreign Service officer will return as secretary (economic relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs. Gokhale has played an important role in talks with senior US officials ahead of the first India-US 2+2 dialogue in Delhi in September.