Old boys' foundation scores again in Delhi

Whether the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton or not, the race on Raisina Hill is being won from the elegant interiors of the Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi.

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui
  • Published 29.12.16
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New Delhi, Dec. 28: Whether the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton or not, the race on Raisina Hill is being won from the elegant interiors of the Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi.

The Centre tonight appointed Anil Baijal the lieutenant-governor of Delhi, filling a vacancy that arose after Najeeb Jung, who has had a running battle with the Arvind Kejriwal government, quit.

Baijal is a former Union home secretary. He is also a member of the executive council of the Vivekananda International Foundation, which describes itself as an "independent and non-partisan" institution.

Some of the think tank's stated objectives - such as monitoring social, economic and political trends that have a bearing on India's unity and integrity, building a self-reliant India, strengthening national security and integrating foreign policy to the nation's long-term objectives - have a remarkable resonance with the pet pursuits of the Sangh parivar. Sources said the foundation was associated with the Vivekananda Kendra which was set up by RSS leader Eknath Ranade.

So far, the foundation has piled up a formidable score as it strives to achieve its goals.

Consider some of its contributions to nation-building: Ajit Doval is the national security adviser while Nripendra Misra is the Prime Minister's principal secretary. Both had been associated with the foundation. So have several others who have landed plum posts around Raisina Hill, the seat of the government in the capital, after Narendra Modi took charge.

Delhi Durbar always had its favourite old boys' clubs. When Rajiv Gandhi was in power, the Doon School boys were the flavour of the season. For the communists, the road to revolution often passed through JNU. In Britain, David Cameron and his Eton chums took the old boy network to another level.

The Vivekananda International Foundation is not exactly a school but an "institution that promotes quality research and in-depth studies".

Baijal was appointed home secretary in 2004 by the government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But he was shifted to civil aviation as soon as the UPA came to power.