The Leaderboard: Ajit Doval

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific.Who is he?

Ajit Doval is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s newly appointed national security advisor. A long-time intelligence operative and highly-decorated police officer, he formerly served as director of the Intelligence Bureau, India’s primary internal intelligence agency. Mr. Doval takes up the role of national security advisor after nine years as head of the Vivekananda International Foundation, a Delhi-based think tank thought to have close links to the BJP.

Why has he been in the news?

With the addition of Mr. Doval, Prime Minister Modi is clearly making internal security and counterterrorism a key focus of his administration. Given Mr. Doval’s background in law enforcement and intelligence, his ‘zero-tolerance’ stance on terrorism, and a perception that the previous government had been weak on national security, Mr. Doval appears to have been a good choice for the post. However, his selection did generate some pushback with sections of the foreign policy establishment arguing that someone with more experience in foreign affairs should have been tapped.

What can we expect from him?

Mr. Doval’s appointment signals a more muscular approach in addressing India’s most pressing internal and external security concerns. He will focus on getting the country’s domestic security situation in order as well as strengthening and modernizing India’s security apparatus.

As the principal advisor to Prime Minister Modi on issues of national security, Mr. Doval will urge Modi to act decisively to ensure that the country is better prepared to deal with internal threats like domestic terrorism and a violent Maoist insurgency as well as manage traditional security challenges like Pakistan and China. In addition, with Afghanistan likely to occupy a good deal of his attention and the United States seeking a more active Indian role in ensuring a smooth political and security transition there, Mr. Doval could help Prime Minister Modi set the stage for closer U.S.-India cooperation in Afghanistan.



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