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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

    • Research Fellow, MP-IDSA, Col. D.P.K Pillay's article 'America’s Vaccine War' has been published in Chanakya Forum on April 23, 2021.

      There are any number of good things the American leaders could be inspired to do for the rest of the world at this time that wouldn’t foster global enmity. They are the world’s only superpower and this selfish act to protect Americans first at the cost of the rest of the world seems even stranger when you see how rich America is compared to the rest of the world who they seek to deny the benefits of the vaccine, writes Col. Pillay.

      May 23, 2021
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article ‘Defending the Indefensible – Not the Army’s Policy’ has been published in Chanakya Forum on March 21, 2021.

      The article analyses the effect of recent scandals that hit the Indian Armed Forces - a question paper leak for recruitment of soldiers, and reports of officers and family members suspected to be part of malpractices in selection of officers at the Service Selection Centre in Kapurthala.

      March 21, 2021
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article ‘Indian connection in UN leadership in China; opportunity for collaboration’ has been published in ‘The Economic Times’, on December 17, 2020

      Appointments of such senior UN appointments in any country particularly China calls for a lot of negotiations, and the appointment of Siddharth Chatterjee who is not just an Indian citizen but a decorated Indian Army veteran is a positive step, writes. Col. Pillay.

      December 17, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Executing extra-territorial targeted killings to eliminate inimical people bent on wrecking death and destruction on Indian nationals and interests is an option India may explore more vigorously, within the confines of international law.

      December 10, 2020
      IDSA Comments
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col D.P.K. Pillay’s article ‘The story of India in the Korean War’ has been published in ‘The Korean Herald’ on November 29, 2020.

      The Korean War was, interestingly, the first commitment to a UN assignment by an independent India and the Indian Army. Our mission in Korea was a task that many did not think India would either be able to handle or deliver, because of its layered complexities and intrigue writes Col. Pillay.

      Read Complete Article [+]

      November 29, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article ‘Forgotten tales of valour and courage: Chivalry and courage at the Battle for Haifa’ has been published in 'The Economic Times', on September 24, 2020.

      The battle of Haifa, Israel, should be commemorated not just for the circumstances it was fought under but also for the impact it had on human history and progress, writes Col. Pillay.

      September 24, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay's article 'Raising the Indian flag in Pakistan: Story of an Indian Battalion' has been published in 'The Economic Times' on August 15, 2020.

      The article is the story of an Indian Battalion trapped at Razmak in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan -- a moment in Indian history that has largely been forgotten today.

      August 15, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article ‘Geneva Conventions at 71: An in-depth look from the Indian perspective’ has been published in ‘The Economic Times’ on August 14, 2020.

      In recent human history the most significant developments in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) happened when the world—exhausted by the barbarity of two World Wars—got together to frame the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the Geneva Conventions (GC) of 1949 of 12 August 1949, writes Col. Pillay.

      August 14, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA. Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article ‘How music influenced the War of Liberation of Bangladesh’ has been published in Daily ‘O’ on August 03, 2020.

      The Concert for Bangladesh was organised at Madison Garden in New York on August 1, 1971, by George Harrison and his mentor, Pt Ravi Shankar. It changed the way the world viewed events in East Pakistan, forcing the US government to notice and react, writes Col. Pillay.

      August 03, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article on General Thimayya, titled ‘Thimayya of India-a Man for All Seasons’ has been published in the ‘Salute’ Magazine on July 31, 2020.

      The article is an account of the sterling role played by General Thimayya as Chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC) in Korea.

      Read Complete Article [+]

      July 31, 2020
      IDSA News