Civil society is facing a new hardship in India under the saffron regime. Well, at least it seems so if the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is to be believed. Doval, though spending a full phase of his life with the so-called ‘civil society, yet now he calls it the ‘new frontier of war’. According to him, Civil society can be ‘suborned and manipulated’ to hurt India’s interests. These are but dangerous words from Doval. He probably should have refrained from speaking such inflammatory words. But should any government take civil society as an enemy, and also be willing to mount a war against the state? Is civil society always the enemy? These are some questions that Doval needs to explain. He may own a position in the government, but should the NSA’s brief include protecting the government from civil society critics?
Doval’s words mean that dissent is a national security threat. But many feel otherwise, as for them it is nothing more than genuine disagreement with a policy? An example of the same would be the disagreement between the government and the farmers over the farm laws. Yes, civil society cannot be solid monolithic. If Admiral L Ramdas is civil society, the historian Dr. Kapil Kumar is also civil society. And the two do not see eye to eye. But by Doval’s definition, Ramdas and Yogendra Yadav are ‘civil society’ who needs to be protected and, perchance, disciplined. According to him, the two and their intellectual circle are the new frontiers of war and they can be “subverted, suborned, divided and manipulated to hurt the interests of a nation.” It seems that Doval’s years spent inside Pakistan in disguise have taken over his mind. He is a man who now perhaps likes to be always at war. If there is no war, he will find one or imagine one.
So, what is Doval’s beef with civil society? “The new frontiers of war, what you call the fourth-generation warfare, is the civil society,” he said, adding that the wars like we used to know aren’t effective instruments to achieve political or military objectives. “They are expensive and unaffordable. Their outcomes are uncertain. But it is the civil society that can be subverted, suborned, divided, and manipulated to hurt the interests of a nation. You are there to see they stand fully protected,” he added. In the last sentence, there is a neat juxta-positioning of roles. It seems that a member of the civil society once, Doval now looks at civil society from his side of the divide. And obviously, he stands with the government. The fact of the matter is that our country is full of such Dovals. Very soon, these newly minted IPS will be out in the country holding responsible police positions. For such Dovals the essence of democracy is not in the ballot box, it’s in the laws made by people elected through ballot boxes. Ajit Doval, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security czar, told the police probationers of their role, about what sort of IPS they should transform to. Some would say Doval defined and described the contours of a police state to the young IPS cadres. But is it what India wants currently or what should be on the minds of our future?