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A New Frontier Of War

Ajit Doval, the National Security Adviser (NSA) of India, recently triggered a controversy with his comment that the Civil Society might become the reason for threat to National Security. Speaking at an event in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, he said: “The new frontiers of war is the Civil Society that can be manipulated to hurt the interests of a nation.

Experts believe that the timing of Doval’s remark is important, as the Supreme Court (SC) of India had said on July 15 (2021) that the Sedition Law or Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) belonged to the Colonial Era, questioning the Government of India whether it was still necessary after 75 years of Independence. Delivering its verdict on the Pegasus spying case in October, the Apex Court made it clear that Privacy and Free Expression are constitutional values, which could not be sacrificed at the altar of National Security.

Ajit Doval

In recent times, the Government of India has been repeatedly accused of suppressing the voices of Civil Society over various issues, such as communal riots in New Delhi, the ongoing farmers’ protests, and the Pegasus Spyware scandal. The Government has branded those who have backed the farmers’ movement on Twitter as Anti-National, thus suppressing the Democratic Rights of Civil Society. In such a situation, Doval identified the Civil Society as practically dangerous!

The NSA reportedly said: “The new frontiers of war, what you call the fourth generation warfare, is the Civil Society. Wars have ceased to become an effective instrument for achieving political or military objectives. They are too expensive or unaffordable and, at the same time, there is uncertainty about their outcome. But it is the Civil Society that can be subverted, suborned, divided, manipulated to hurt the Interests of a Nation. You are there to see they stand fully protected.

Meanwhile, Opposition parties and a large section of Civil Society have strongly criticised NSA Doval for issuing such a statement, claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has spread the seeds of hatred and divided the society. The Ruling Party has also branded Opposition leaders and critics as Traitors and Urban Naxals (Urban hooligans). The NSA has further provoked this unrest by describing the Indians as a danger to National Security.

In an article published in the Indian Express daily on November 18, 2021, former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and Social Activist Aruna Roy strongly criticised the NSA, stating: “Doval neither bothered to define the Civil Society he wants his officers to be at war with, nor explained what gave him the authority to declare a ‘fourth-generation war‘ on our own people.” She stressed: “He should explain himself more, but it is a theory that legitimises efforts of the Political Executive and the Private Sector as nation-building; and paints Opposition or Adversarial Advocacy by organised citizens’ groups (Civil Society) as undermining Development and Nationalism. He clearly wants to short-circuit the Democratic, Social and Development Safeguards in the Constitution.

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