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How National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s son Shaurya reinvented himself into a key policy player

He's an alumnus of London School of Business and Chicago University, has worked as investment banker for GE Capital and Morgan Stanley and heads the India unit of an investment fund, Zeus Caps, backed by a super wealthy Saudi Sheikh - but that's not what makes Shaurya Doval (40) special. Neither it is that Shaurya's father happens to be India's National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval. There are plenty of foreign-educated, foreign-trained, well-to-do progenies of senior, powerful babus. But Shaurya is something others in that privileged group are not - he's an increasingly influential player in shaping Modi Sarkar's policy thinking. Junior Doval's rise since Modi Sarkar came to power has been a quiet affair. The media barely knows him. But those who know how things work in Delhi's establishment say Junior Doval practices Track 1.5 diplomacy.

READ ALSO: Six ministers, babus to attend counter-terror meet organized by Doval's son

That means Shaurya, a director in the principal driving force behind the BJP/RSS- heavyweights-dominated think-tank, India Foundation, is far closer to actual policymakers than your usual Track II enthusiasts are. ET spoke to over a dozen people for this profile. Shaurya Doval met ET. Ajit Doval, did not respond to ET's questions. Many people ET spoke to participated on the condition they not be identified.


India Foundation, set up five years back, calls itself an 'independent research centre'. Its current offices are in a tony apartment in New Delhi's ultra-posh Hailey Road. The apartment was used by Nirmala Sitharaman, minister for corporate affairs, before NDA came to power. When Sitharaman moved out to her ministerial bungalow, India Foundation shifted offices to the apartment. Its earlier offices were in Jangpura, a nice South Delhi locality, but nowhere as plush as Hailey Road. Sitharaman, along with ministers Suresh Prabhu and Jayant Sinha, are directors of the Foundation. Influential

RSS leader Ram Madhav, who's now a BJP general secretary, is also a director. As is ex-editor and current BJP spokesperson MJ Akbar. Madhav and Doval Junior set up the India Foundation. Doval Junior left his plum investment banking job and got back to India in 2009. Like the Viveknanda Foundation, with which Senior Doval was closely associated, the India Foundation is a forum for the political right. But the son's think-tank has a reach the father's never had. Senior government officials say India Foundation is beginning to have the same influence on Modi government's policy thinking that the National Advisory Council had on UPA-1's. "It's Modi Sarkar's quasi-NAC", one bureaucrat said. NAC-like formal recognition may or may not come to the Foundation, but NAC-like access to the highest offices is evident.

Consider the following:

.. Shaurya Doval and Ram Madhav are deeply involved in planning Indian diaspora events that are such a crucial part of Prime Minister's foreign visits.
.. The Madison Square event during Modi's US trip, a PM speech during his France trip that was broadcasted to French-controlled islands that have substantial Indian-origin population, many of the PM's public functions during his visit to Indian Ocean island countries - Doval was a planner for all these high profile and crucial events.

.. And Ajit Doval's son is also playing a key part in planning the big diaspora event in San Francisco in September, where the PM will interact with Silicon Valley's Indian elite.


Being part of teams that plan crucial elements of the PM's foreign trips is evidence enough of influence. But that's not the only or perhaps even the most significant evidence of Shaurya's importance. That significant evidence is apparent every Wednesday in Delhi. Every Wednesday, Indian Foundation holds closed door sessions on high policy issues.

Category: Advisor

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