Subverting civil society is new frontier of war: Doval

Subverting civil society is new frontier of war: Doval

In News:

  • India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval pointed out that the new frontiers of war is about the subverting civil society.
    • He was addressing the IPS trainees at the SVP National Police Academy in Hyderabad.

  • He termed civil society as a fourth generation of warfare.
    • First-generation warfare refers to Ancient and Post-classical battles fought with massed manpower.
    • Second-generation warfare is the Early modern tactics used after the invention of the rifled musket and breech-loading weapons.
    • Third-generation warfare focuses on using modern technology-derived tactics of leveraging speed, stealth and surprise to bypass the enemy’s lines and collapse their forces from the rear.
    • Fourth-generation warfare is characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, combatants and civilians.

In Focus: Civil Society Subversion


  • Civil society subversion is the hijacking or co-option of social movements, diaspora communities, advocacy groups, or other civil society entities.
  • This is doneusing non-transparent or seditious means to amplify political and social cleavages, promote extremism, or otherwise divide target societies.

How it is done?

  • Civil society subversion occurswhenthe organisation is penetrated by individuals or entities linked to the foreign governments, their ruling parties, or their proxies.
    • Often the foreign entities use funds for the subversion of the civil society organisations in a country.
      • For example, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had blamed NGOs, often funded from the United States and Scandinavian countries, for spearheading the protests against the Koodankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu.

    • This subverted organisation is then used as a tool to promote foreign agenda thereby hurting the interest of a nation.

Subversion: A threat to internal security of a nation

  • Wars ceased to become effective instruments to achieve political and military objectives.
    • They are too expensive, unaffordable and there is uncertainty about the outcome.

  • However, it is the civil society that can be subverted, divided and manipulated to hurt the interest of the nation.
    • Pakistan has been waging a systematic proxy war against India with subversion and terrorism as the main weapons.
      • Many NGOs supported by Pakistan are active in different parts of India.
      • They use the existing societal differences as a tool to further alienatethe minority population.

    • Subverted NGOs often provide social base to the divisive forces.
      • Role of Elgar Parishad in supporting Maoism is well documented.

    • These organisations often work towards the development of a negative sentiment in the minds of the youths in an insurgency/terrorism affected region.
      • ISI uses these organisations to recruit its fighters.

    • In India, these organisations help militants/insurgents/separatists in mobilizing funds for their activities.
      • They collect funds from sympathizers, carry out disguised trade and indulge in money laundering activities so support terrorist organizations financially.

    • Issues like human rights, environment protection etc. are often raised by these organisations to stall the growth and development of India.

Tools/mechanisms to deal with subverted civil society organisations

  • Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA)regulates the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by civil society organisations in India.
    • FCRA regulates the inflow of foreign contributions or aid to India.
    • The law is enforced by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

  • Furthermore, MHA has launched an Online Analytical Tool to keep a close eye on foreign-funded NGOs.
  • MHA has also put some organisations on a watch list, suspended or de-registered organizations.
    • It also authorizes Enforcement Department-led raids on offices of these organisations and frozen the bank accounts of some organisations.

  • Also, India is promoting self-regulation as a tool to deal with civil society organisation in an effective manner. These self-regulation initiatives include:
    • the development of codes of conduct,
    • monitoring, rating or validation mechanisms to strengthen the sector’s understanding of how to improve accountability and the public’s understanding of the non-profit sector.

 Defence & Security