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  • DPK Pillay

    Research Fellow
    +91 11 2671 7983

    Colonel Dr. Divakaran Padma Kumar Pillay (Retd.) has seen action in several disturbed areas of the country. He earned a Shaurya Chakra for gallantry beyond the call of duty in Tamenglong, Manipur where he is remembered for the evacuation of wounded children despite having himself received life threatening injuries. On his retirement, the villagers made him an honorary member of their tribe for his humanitarian actions and in recognition of the development initiatives taken by him in the region including a national highway sanctioned by the Government of India.   

    Col. Pillay has held several assignments in his 29-year career in the Indian Army. Besides several field assignments, he was selected by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to serve at the Military School, Bangalore to inspire cadets to join the Armed Forces. In 2003, he was selected for Project Beta which delivered a handheld PDA for use by the Infantry in counter insurgency operations. This was a very unique military-funded IT enterprise. For his contribution to the project, he was awarded the COAS Commendation Card in 2005.

    In January 2006, he was selected as Planning Officer (Defence) in the Planning and International Cooperation (PIC) Division of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Being the first service officer in the MoD secretariat, he handled issues ranging from defence policy and strategy, implementation of the Group of Ministers report on reform of national security system, defence cooperation with foreign countries, issues of multilateral forum as well as matters pertaining to institutions like the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA). He has also represented India at various international forums including the UNOG for CCW conferences, UNGA, Shangri La Dialogue, ASEAN and UNEP, among others

    After the tenure at MoD, he served on a yearlong fellowship at MP-IDSA in 2009, where he prepared a report on the benefits of joint exercises with the foreign countries. He was subsequently selected as Senior Defence Specialist in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), where he served from 2010 to 2017. He has been a member of several national level task forces including that on Defence Modernisation and Indigenisation headed by Shri Ravindra Gupta and the Task Force on Defence Diplomacy, which brought about significant changes in policy. He was also a member of the NSCS-nominated Task Force on Environmental Security. 

    Currently, Col. Pillay is pursuing research on violent extremism at MP-IDSA as well as a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) project on Action Plan to Counter Radicalisation of Indian Youth. He was nominated as a member of the Advisory Committee for Commemoration of the First War with Pakistan (October 1947-December 1948) by the National Archives of India. He subsequently produced a well-researched exhibition on the accession of Jammu and Kashmir. In December 2018, he was nominated as Brand Ambassador to the Disabled in the Army, having been wounded in action and showing remarkable grit and recovery, by the COAS in a ceremony held at the Northern Command along with living Param Vir Chakra awardees.

    In December 2018, he was also deputed as a Military Advisor with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for After Action Review for the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. He was the first Indian armed forces officer selected as an Armed Forces Delegate with the ICRC. He re-joined MP-IDSA in May 2019.

    Col. Pillay holds a Ph.D. from the Panjab University and his thesis deals with the debate between human and national security. Besides university courses, he has attended several military training programmes in India and abroad on diverse subjects relating to conflict resolution, human rights, security sector reform, humanitarian civil-military coordination, strategic negotiations, rehabilitation and relief, disaster risk management and environmental law. Some of the courses attended are: New Issues in Security course at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (2007), Switzerland; the UNOCHA course on Civil Military Cooperation at Bangkok (2014); and International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance, Barcelona, Spain (2014).

    He has been invited to present papers at international conferences, notably at the Martens Reading at St. Petersburg, Russia in May 2019 and at the ICRC South Asia in July 2017. He regularly conducts international humanitarian law (IHL) training for the UN missions at courses conducted by the Centre for UN Peacekeeping in New Delhi. He also delivers lectures at universities and colleges including at the UGC-HRD courses. He is a regular strategic affairs commentator on Indian radio and television as well as a motivational speaker, including at TED. He was a recipient of the CNN–IBN Special Achievement Award in 2012.

    Select Publications

    • India's evolving defence diplomacy reflects its growing strategic ambitions.

      April 12, 2024
      IDSA Comments
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col DPK Pillay’s article ‘UN Charter Limitations and enduring insights from India’s Experience of R2P in 1971’ has been published in ADGPI, Centre for United Nations Peace Keeping flagship annual journal Blue Helmet Odyssey 2024. The article reflects on the world’s first case of responsibility to protect and how the UN didn't really stand up for the refugees escaping persecution from Pakistan.

      April 10, 2024
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col DPK Pillay’s article ‘Remembering Naik Jadunath–II: Evacuation from Pak’ has been published in 04 -10 March Issue of Blitz India.

      Read Complete Article [+]

      March 04, 2024
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col DPK Pillay’s article ‘Courage, sacrifice a way of life for Indian soldier’ has been published in the 26 February-03 March 2024 issue of ‘The Blitz’.

      The British watched silently how hastily-drawn boundaries generated mayhem amongst communities that had found an uneasy equilibrium and harmony co-existing for centuries suddenly erupted into a communal frenzy, says Col Pillay.

      February 26, 2024
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col DPK Pillay’s article ‘Detained Navy officials back safely from Qatar’ has been published in BlitzIndia on 15 February 2024.

      The news of their release came as a huge relief for their families, who were informed after they boarded their flights back home, says Col Pillay.

      Read Complete Article [+]

      February 15, 2024
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col DPK Pillay’s Oped ‘4 Guards’ stirring saga of courage and sacrifice’ has been published in ‘The Tribune’ on 06 February 2024.

      The 4 Guards (1 Rajput) is one of those whose rank and file have proved their mettle time and again, challenging odds and human limits. It also has had the honour of providing India’s finest Generals, including the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Gen (later Field Marshal) KM Cariappa, says Col Pillay.

      February 06, 2024
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col D.P.K. Pillay’s article ‘In deep water’ has been published by Blitz India Media on 11 January 2024.

      Read Complete Article [+]

      January 11, 2024
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col DPK Pillay’s article ‘Creation of Bangladesh is an enduring reminder of how the UN fails’ was published in 24-30 December 2023 issue of Sunday Guardian.

      December 30, 2024
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col D.P.K. Pillay’s perspective piece ‘Global Piracy on Decline, But New Threats Emerge’ has been published by Blitz India Media on 28 December 2023.

      Read Complete Article [+]

      December 28, 2023
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col D.P.K. Pillay’ article ‘Creation of Bangladesh is enduring reminder of how the UN fails’ has been published in The Sunday Guardian on 24 December 2023. The article is about the use of Article 99 of the UN Charter by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Gaza. India's experience as the world turned a blind eye on the genocide in Bangladesh shows how the world operates—it is not on 'Just or Unjust' or 'Moral or Immoral' terms, says Col Pillay.

      December 24, 2023
      IDSA News