In “Undercover,” the cover story for the September 2017 issue of The Caravan, Praveen Donthi profiled the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. In the piece, Donthi reported on the NSA’s ties to the Vivekananda International Foundation and the India Foundation. The NSA is the founding director of the former, while his son, Shaurya, is a director of the latter. The two think tanks share close ties with powerful leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh—the VIF’s ties to the RSS are an open secret, and in addition to Shaurya, the India Foundation counts among its directors the cabinet ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Suresh Prabhu, as well the BJP’s national general secretary, Ram Madhav.
In the following extract from the profile, Donthi reports on how links to the two organisations contribute to strengthening Doval’s influence within the current dispensation.
In 2009, the Vivekananda Kendra, founded by an RSS leader in the 1970s, set up a think tank named the Vivekananda International Foundation. Doval was appointed its founding director. According to the VIF website, he spoke at the inauguration of bringing “the intellectual community in consonance with the spirit of nationalism,” and of encouraging “young, talented research scholars to probe the depths of research in various genre of topics which are very vital to the national interests … so as to elevate India to her right place in the world.” That declaration notwithstanding, Doval went on to fill the organisation largely with retired security bureaucrats and diplomats. The VIF’s employees have also included the journalist Rajeev Sharma. Nitin Gokhale is currently one of its visiting fellows.