"Subversive Political Action
- A planned series of activities designed to accomplish political objectives
by influencing, dominating, or displacing individuals or groups who are so
placed as to affect the decisions and actions of another government." -
Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. US Department of Defense 2005.
In the current dynamics of unfolding political
tactics, it becomes imperative to understand the continuity and changes in the
way political actions are mechanized and operated. Of which, one of the most
evolving facet is that of political subversion, that is, defying the
existential norms by an act of ignorance, violation or revisionist tendencies
to change. Thereby, what calls for subversion for a state, becomes a revolution
for the subversive actor. For instance, terrorism and insurgency, are
subversive political activities that exemplify this complexity in defining what
entails being subversive.
Applying the theory of subversion to the
current Indian context, it can be stated that at present, India stands to be a
breeding ground for pseudo forces, such as- pseudo-liberals, pseudo-seculars,
pseudo-hardliners, pseudo-religious sects, pseudo-activists, pseudo-law abiding
citizens, and others. And thus, infusion of such elements make the future look
less promising given the unaccounted growth in subversive political activities,
of which, most are "internal" in origin.
Influence of Subversive Political Activities on a Nation's Foreign Policy:
Foreign policy is the sum total of official
external relations conducted by an independent actor (usually a state) in
international relations. It includes not only aggressive or defensive
military action but trade and cross border humanitarian interactions as well.
When trying to analyze the role of the head of government in foreign policy
decision making, it is important to know what is motivating him or her.
Depending on the political system of the head of government, the influencing
factors will vary. For the head of the government in a democracy such as India,
consensus of the office and public opinion always plays an important role,
whereas, in an authoritarian rule like China, the state has the monopoly in
decision-making, which may not meet the public consensus but entail a long term
Subversion is perhaps most closely associated
with Cold-War era, mass-based, Marxist-Leninist groups. While it is certainly
true that communists from the time of Lenin onward have used subversion, a wide
variety of other violent underground movements still continue to employ these
tactics. But, in India's context, it's history that lies at the very roots of
it's own civilization, which in it self stands more than thousand years old.
Study : India was Soviet Union's Subversive Political Activities Laboratory
According to Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov, a
translator Soviet Economic Aid Group to India during 1960s , the Soviets, in
purchasing Indian manufactured goods, would pay the Indians only in rubles.
Unfortunately, rubles are non-convertible currency on the international market,
which means that the Indian manufacturer would be unable to purchase anything
on the international market with his Soviet rubles. On the other hand, the
Soviets would take the Indian manufactured goods and sell them at a substantial
profit on the international market for “hard currency” such as dollars or
pounds which are easily negotiable. That is, the Indian manufacturer received
only a fraction of the actual worth of his product, while the Soviets reaped
the rewards of their duplicity.
it that the Indians are stupid, ignorant people, that they allow the Soviets to
deceive them in this manner? On the contrary for the most part, they are
innocent victims of one of the world’s most sophisticated eon games Ideological
Subversion." - Yuri Bezmenov's Love
Letter to America 
A cognitive approach assumes that a complex,
and realistic psychology drives human reasoning and decision making. It does
not assume individual awareness, open-mindness, and adaptability as relative to
an “objective” environment, but rather assumes that individuals are likely to
view their environment differently and operate within their own
"psychological environment".  From the above definition of
cognitive decision-making, the most important driving force is the
'environment', which in this case, involves the political environment. Even for
an individual decision maker his or her cognition is likely to be influenced by
the political environment in which he or she is operating in.
Given this, the '2015 Patel stir' in Gujarat
is indeed a classic case of "Front Group led Subversion Activitiy" in
the form of "Civil Unrest". To gain public credibility, attract new
supporters, generate revenue, and acquire other resources, dissident and
insurgent groups largely undertake political activities that are entirely
separate, or appear to be entirely separate, from the overtly violent activities
of those groups.  Sometimes this is achieved by infiltrating political
parties, labor unions, community groups, and charitable organizations.
Working in and through existing organizations,
which provide a façade of legitimacy that might otherwise be unobtainable,
terrorists and insurgents can bolster political allies, attack government
policies, and attract international support. For those situations in which
infiltration is too difficult, terrorists and insurgents may establish their
own front groups—that is, organizations that purport to be independent but are
in fact created and controlled by others.
As with infiltration, fomenting riots,
organizing strikes, and staging demonstrations can have a corrosive effect on
the power, presence, and capabilities of the state. Such unrest is first and
foremost an affront to governmental authority, and the failure to suppress it
can have damaging political repercussions for the state by demonstrating that
it is incapable of living up to its fundamental responsibility to maintain
public order. At the same time, however, overreaction by the security forces
can play into the hands of terrorists and insurgents by seeming to confirm the
opposition’s claims about the fundamentally repressive nature of the state. The
death of demonstrators at the hands of the
Gujarat Police during the stir helped incite and radicalize
a faction of native young people, who came to believe that the Government is
against the people of particular community which forms a majority in the state
Distinguishing subversion from legitimate
expressions of political dissent is a problem only for democracies; as for
totalitarian regimes, all opposition is inherently subversive.  To build a
thorough understanding of the subversive underground, counter-intelligence
operations will necessarily be directed against a wide range of anti-government
groups, some of which will be aversely affected by these intelligence forays.
 Here, counter-subversion also entails more than just simply identifying
subversives and subversive activity—it may very well require repression. 
According to Robert Thompson, - "[i]t
is not the aim of the intelligence organization merely to penetrate the
insurgent movement. Its aim, inside its own country, must be the total
eradication of the threat." 
And in the judgment of David Galula ,
intelligence operatives should infiltrate subversive organizations "to
disintegrate [them] from within." 
For democratic states facing substantial
subversive threats within its borders (like in India) - the first line of
defence is the first line of offence enacted by banning all kind of political
activities on university campuses which are directly linked with any political
parties, religious sect or any sect which fuels subversion.
Instead of that, the country should promote
fraternity based affiliations (like in U.S.) which considers both academic and
extra-curricular achievements as one of the priority factors to take a role in
nation's future leadership. That's how Americans have always delivered
"multiple lines of succession" at all levels of democracy. Since last
250 years, it has maintained the sanctity without indulging into any form of cult-based
leadership figures and figurines.
The requirements of a vigorous
counter-subversion campaign will create painful dilemmas and undemocratic
consequences, since counter-subversion will almost certainly collide with the
rights of free speech, free association, and related liberties. In the case of
authoritarian regimes facing serious subversive threats (e.g., China), their
rulers are likely to dismiss human-rights objections to their operations on the
ground that such actions are essential for national survival, which they
justify as the need for regime survival.
Subversion is far more than just an
intelligence problem. Along with academic-researcher class, a well-trained,
professional law enforcement agencies - both local and national, attuned to
domestic conditions and capable of building and maintaining strong
relationships with the public, can play an invaluable role. But if such forces
are to be effective, they will also have to be trained to identify patterns to
“connect the dots" so, that subversive activities can be spotted and
At the same time, people of a country have to
keep away the domestic anti-national elements (of all types) from all the
factions of governance by franchising their voting rights effectively. At last,
people's mandate is the only effective weapon against any type of subversion.
Subversion is an enduring feature of political
history, but like other aspects of the phenomenon, it has not changed much
since the era of “Chanakya”.
Thus, it is the task of practitioners and analysts to identify the nature and
scope of these changes and seek to manoeuvre the needs to wage effective
counter-subversion in the future.
 Hill, Christopher. (2003). The Changing
Politics of Foreign Policy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
 Schuman, Tomas / Bezmenov, Yuri (1982),
Love Letter to America
 Neack, Laura. (2008). The New Foreign
Policy- power seeking in a globalized era (2nd Ed.). Rowman & Littlefield
 Rosenau, William (2007). “Subversion and
Insurgency”, Prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Published by
 Revel, Jean-François, “Can the Democracies
Survive?” Commentary, June 1984
 Spjut, R. J., “A Review of
Counter-Insurgency Theorists,” Political Quarterly, Vol. 49, No. 1, January
 Thompson, Robert, Defeating Communist
Insurgency: Experiences from Malaya and Vietnam, London: Chatto & Windus,
 Galula, David, Counterinsurgency Warfare:
Theory and Practice, New York; Frederick A. Praeger, Publisher, 1964.
NOTICE: This article contains the extracts
from RAND Corporation Reports under Limited Electronic Distribution Rights for
Non-Commercial Distribution Only.