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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, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article ‘The Custodian Force of India and Lt. General Thorat: The General who knew the way’ has been published in ‘The Economic Times’ on July 27, 2020. The article is in continuation to a series of articles on India’s hidden military history.

      Rare is a General endowed with both character and strategic vision. Gen Thorat was one, and he will remain one of the best Army Chiefs India never had, writes Col. Pillay.

      July 27, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA. Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article on General Thimayya’s role in Korea as Chairman of Neutral Nations Repatriation Committee (NNRC), titled ‘NNRC in Korea and Lt Gen KS Thimayya’ has been published in ‘The Economic Times’ on July 20, 2020.

      The article which is in continuation to the series ‘Forgotten Tales of Valour and Courage‘, also covers General Thimayya’s role in Liberation of Kashmir and the honour he brought to India in Korea by his impartial and professional conduct.

      July 20, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article on Indian military’s role in the Korean conflict against China and North Korea in 1950, titled ‘Forgotten tales of courage and valour: The Bucket Brigade’ has been published in ‘The Economic Times’ on July 09, 2020. The article is in continuation to a series of articles on India’s hidden military history.

      July 09, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col D.P.K. Pillay’s article on the Indian Army, titled ‘If we have an Army we have to use it’ has been published in Malayalam Manorama on June 17, 2020.

      Read More [+]

      June 17, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col D.P.K. Pillay participated in a discussion on Chinese deception in Ladakh on ‘News Hour’, a programme aired on Times Now on June 17, 2020.

      More [+]

      June 17, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article on Indo-China border dispute, titled ‘Cooperation not confrontation: Changing the rules of the China game’ has been published in ‘The Economic Times’ on June 14, 2020.

      The last meeting between Modi and Xi took place in Mamallapuram. Taking the spirit of that site forward, it is only appropriate that India and China recognise what cooperation and not confrontation can achieve for themselves and the rest of the world, writes Col. Pillay.

      June 14, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, Manohar Parrikar IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article on media coverage of events in Jammu & Kashmir, titled ‘Truth vs. Reality: Unshackling the Burdens of Intrigue in Kashmir’ has been published by the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) on May 30, 2020.

      With the background to the conflict in Kashmir the question that arises is does journalism serve Indian democracy in Kashmir?, asks Col. Pillay.

      May 30, 2020
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article on the exhibition on French Connection with India (1750- 1850), at the National Museum, New Delhi, titled ‘Reviving the 300-year-old Indo-French relationship’ has been published in ‘Daily O’ on December 14, 2019.

      The exhibition, presented by Alliance Française in collaboration with the National Museum, New Delhi, and BnF Paris, titled ‘Raja Nawabs and Firangees’ showcases the mutual influence and interdependences of India and France from 1750 to 1850, writes Col. Pillay.

      December 14, 2019
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, IDSA, Col. D.P.K Pillay’s article on the remains of Mosul city, titled ‘What we should learn from a death in a tunnel’ has been published by ‘Daily O’ on November 02, 2019.

      The remains of Mosul does not just bury thousands of years of history, but a culture of coexistence which will be hard to rebuild, writes Col. Pillay

      Read Complete Article [+]

      November 02, 2019
      IDSA News
    • Research Fellow, IDSA, Col. D.P.K. Pillay’s article on India’s nuclear policy, titled ‘Nuke policy not in for a change’ has been published in Mail Today on August 20, 2019.

      August 20, 2019
      IDSA News