Ajit Doval replaces cabinet secy as head of ‘strategic policy group'

Highlights:

  • National security advisor Ajit Doval has replaced cabinet secretary as the head of the Strategic Policy Group (SPG).
  • The SPG, a mechanism first notified in April 1999 to assist the National Security Council (NSC) in strategising on matters dealing with external, internal and economic security of the country.
  • The 1999 notification constituting SPG and defining its role and functions had specified the cabinet secretary as its chairperson.
  • Recently, the government, through a notification on September 11 and published in the gazette on October 8, has made a partial modification, listing NSA as its chairman. 
  • Earlier, the SPG notified in 1999 was a 16-member body, the new notification makes it an 18-member body with the cabinet secretary and vice-chairman of NITI Aayog as the new members.
  • Other members to be part of SPG are Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, RBI governor, secretaries of external affairs, home, defence, finance, defence production, revenue, atomic energy, space, and National Security Council Secretariat besides scientific adviser to defence minister, secretary (R) in Cabinet secretariat and the Intelligence Bureau chief.
  • The reconstitution of SPG puts NSA at the top of the national security strategy set-up, coming close on the heels of a decision to set up the defence planning committee, a new strategic think-tank under chairmanship of NSA to formulate national military and security strategy and oversee defence acquisitions from abroad.
  • While NSA will convene SPG meetings, the cabinet secretary will coordinate implementation of its decisions with various ministries and departments.