Context: After years of deliberations in the military and strategic community, India is moving towards formalisation of national Security strategy.
- The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) is putting in place a comprehensive National Security Strategy in consultation with several Central ministries and departments.
- The document is aimed at putting together India’s national security objectives and the ways to be adopted to achieve or realise them
- Multiple ministries has sent their respective inputs given the complex nature of the various traditional and non-traditional threats, especially when rising geopolitical tensions have given way to uncertainties
- In the past three attempts were made to come out with a national security strategy, but there was hesitation at the political level. Further there has been a lack of a cohesive, whole-of-government effort, to the government deliberately not making public its national security objectives.
Defining National Security strategy
- A National Security Strategy document outlines the country’s security objectives, and the steps needed to achieve the objectives.
- Strategy remains holistic as it defines both traditional, non-traditional threats that a country faces.
- The strategy also underlines the opportunities for countries and fixes accountability of agencies which are tasked with the implementation of such responsibilities.
- Thus the national security strategy would guide the military, critical defence and security reforms which are needed and thus provides a holistic view of the overall national security, the threats and the roadmap to address them.
- Most developed countries with an advanced military and security infrastructure have a National Security Strategy in place which are also updated in Periodic basis
- The US, UK and Russia have in the past come out with their National Security Strategy.
- Indian Neighbours like China also has such a strategy in place, called the Comprehensive National Security and so has Pakistan under its National Security Policy 2022-2026, underlining its national security objectives and priority areas.
Need for India:
- Diverse Threats: India faces a range of traditional (border issues with China and Pakistan, also the collusive threat) and non-traditional threats, necessitating a cohesive strategy to effectively address them.
- Border Vulnerability: Smuggling and contraband trade along India’s borders provide channels for terrorists and criminals to infiltrate the country.
- Terrorism: The threat of terrorism not only jeopardizes domestic security but may also have external links. Combating terrorism requires both domestic and external interventions.
- Water Security: Managing water resources, especially shared major rivers with neighbouring countries, requires a coordinated approach that spans domestic and external dimensions.
- Outdated Directives: The existing political directive for the armed forces, the Raksha Mantri’s operational Directive of 2009, is outdated and needs revision.
- Ad Hoc Responses: The absence of an overarching strategy often leads to ad hoc responses with uncertain effectiveness. Such an approach overlooks the broader political, social, and economic context within which specific security incidents occur.
- Expert Recommendations and Military Reforms: Prominent defence personnel recommend the adoption of a comprehensive strategy before implementing theaterisation Major military reforms are necessary to ensure forces remain combat-ready and aligned with current geo-security conditions. These reforms should ideally stem from a national security strategy.
- Learning from Experience: A comprehensive NSS is essential for a structured mechanism to learn from past experiences and improve future security policies.
What it should include and how it should be framed:
- Definition of national security and political security objectives
- The document must define national security in broad terms including military as well as non-military dimensions of security. It must clearly state the objectives of National Security Strategy
- Appreciation of the geopolitical environment
- The document should describe the geopolitical environment and how it has affected India. These include the rise of multipolarity and malalignment; the rise of China and its intense drive for military modernisation, the growing dysfunctionality of Pakistani state; the impending withdrawal of US. The discovery of energy resources in the Arctic Ocean and the economic uncertainty in the US and Europe.
- Challenges from the Neighbourhood
- The document may pay special attention to the neighbourhood – the neighbouring countries, the extended neighbourhood and Indian Ocean as instability in these regions will cause instability in India.
- Internal Security
- The document will need to give urgent attention to internal security issues including left wing extremism, Jammu and Kashmir, the North East, communalism, corruption, religious fundamentalism and extremism, regional and socio-economic inequalities.
- Focusing on Technology
- As the 21st century is the era of technology, it will underpin many of our strengths. Thus, India will need to build capacities in research and development (R&D) in diverse fields to help socio-economic economic development, and self-reliance in strategic sectors including space, defence technologies, agriculture, manufacturing, information technology, clean and green technologies etc
The National Security Strategy should further encompass:
- Inter-Linkages, Feedback Loops and Coherent Template: There is a need for interconnections and feedback mechanisms among diverse challenges to achieve multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral interventions.
- Democratic Rights and Surveillance State Concerns: The danger of cumulative ad hoc responses in curtailing democratic rights raises the importance of preventing national security from justifying a surveillance state.
- Diverse Expertise: Considering national security in its diverse dimensions. There is a need of tasking a group of eminent persons from different disciplines to evaluate national security comprehensively.
- People-Centric NSS: The significance of making the NSS citizen-centric and should ensure that it reflects the values and beliefs of the people in a democracy and is based on broad constitutional ideals.