Meet super heroes of Modi’s 2.0 and know their missions

Chennai: Ajit’s CID Shankar & Jaishankar’s Vivegam – No, we have not messed up with the film titles of Tamil actors. Rather, we are talking about two top stars of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government.

After serving as senior bureaucrats, they now hold Cabinet ranks and their actions are keenly watched by not just those in India, but stakeholders across the world.

They are External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

JAI HO

The biggest surprise at Modi Cabinet’s oath-taking ceremony last week was the induction of Jaishankar. A Tamilian by birth, Jaishankar was son of prominent strategic affairs analyst K Subrahmanyam. Modi’s confidence in him thanks to his body of work when he served as Foreign Secretary has gifted him the post of MEA.

And, he has an immediate and inevitable task to handle — for US President Donald Trump formally rescinded India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), just hours after Jaishankar took charge as External Affairs Minister.

This apart, he has a string of issues that needs to be carefully addressed, from (un)friendly neighbours to big brothers to rivals. But, he seems to be ready for the challenge and is having a vision, too.

Speaking at a public event a few weeks before he was made MEA, Jaishankar stated that Indian foreign policy (is) now aimed at a “positioning that will arise from optimising ties with all major players”.

POLICE LINE

You can call him ‘Super Cop’ or ‘Indian James Bond’. Ajit Doval is all that and more. Appointed as NSA during Modi’s first term with a Minister of State rank, Doval has now been elevated to the rank of Cabinet Minister on a par with members of the Cabinet Committee on Security — Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

A government order reads: ‘The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Ajit Doval, IPS (Retired) as National Security Adviser with effect from 31.05.2019. His appointment will be co-terminus with the term of the Prime Minister or until further orders, whichever is earlier. During the term of his office, he will be assigned the rank of Cabinet Minister in the Table of Precedence’.

Doval, who joined the IPS in 1968 in the Kerala cadre, was actively involved in anti-insurgency operations in Mizoram and Punjab. He was one of three negotiators who handled the release of passengers from IC-814 in Kandahar in 1999. He headed the Intelligence Bureau (IB) before retirement.

Hailed as spymaster, Doval’s upgrade is being viewed as Modi’s sharp message on national security.

Widely credited for the doctrinal shift in Indian national security policy in relation to Pakistan, especially in terms of the 2016 surgical strikes and 2019 Balakot airstrike, Doval, besides, advising the Prime Minister on security issues, will also play a co-ordinating role between the armed forces and the intelligence community for a cogent military response to any threat.

He is expected to act as a bridge between the PMO, Home and Defence ministries.

Power corridors are already abuzz with the talk that a centralised security architecture has been built around the Modi-Jaishankar-Doval trinity. And, the country is eager to see how the trio is going to deliver.

M Bhaskar Sai