7 PM | National Security Doctrine | 19 February, 2019

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The pulwama attacks have exposed the gaps in our security apparatus and the urgent need to have a well-articulated national security doctrine

National Security Doctrine

  • Doctrine is a stated principle of government policy mainly in foreign or military affairs. The difference between doctrine and strategy is that doctrine is only prescriptive in nature; strategy is descriptive — it describes on a broad perspective on how resources are to be used to achieve some goal.
  • Doctrines evolve after a strategic review. It is an intellectual exercise involving multiple stakeholders in the government, armed forces, academia and think tanks backed by a rigorous iterative process.
  • A country’s national security policy is determined by many factors, including external threats, geography, political culture, military capabilities, economic needs and public opinion
  • Unlike many other countries, India does not publish a formally articulated National Security Strategy or National Security Doctrine or a White Paper on National Defence.
  • In the absence of a coherent strategy, the government’s responses remain ad hoc and partial.

Advantage of doctrine

  • National Security Doctrine would enable government to address the crucial issue of coordination required to formulate and address new security challenges such as terror attacks that have arisen
  • It helps to protect and promote national interests pertaining to security and dissuades adversaries from attempting to play mischief.
  • It provides guidance to all stakeholders on policies related to national security. It helps in identification of the military, economic, diplomatic resources needed to meet the challenges.
  • It offers reassurance to the citizens that the government has initiated appropriate protective measures to safeguard national security.
  • It makes a State’s actions predictable. This is useful for reassuring neighbours, including adversaries.

Security Architecture of India

  • Till the year 1998, India did not have a fully integrated intelligence and security architecture. The security related activities were overseen in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.
  • The National Security Council Secretariat was established in 1998 which is headed by the NSA
  • In 1998, National Security Council and office of National Security Advisor was constituted. The core principle behind this development was to evolve a more efficient and cost-effective national security system, capable of dealing with threat profile of 21st century
  • The NSC comprised of various layers of decision-making apparatus ranging from strategic analysis, internal security, governance, armed forces, law, science and technology, and economics. These segments were manned by domain experts who recommended solutions and addressed policy issues referred to it by the NSC.
  • The Strategic Policy Groups was created as part of the NSC to advise the Government on all matters of national security and strategic importance. SPG was seen as the first ever formal mechanism established by Government of India for inter-ministerial coordination and integration of relevant inputs significant for the formulation of national security policies.

Recent development

Recently government has taken a series of moves to streamline and synergise national security architecture. Some of the important steps are

  • Additional budget for the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS).
  • Appointment of two more deputy national security advisers, as opposed to just one; The three Deputy NSAs will now widen the scope and responsibility of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which works directly under National Security Adviser (NSA)
  • A Military Adviser.
  • Reconstituted Strategic Policy Group: It is brought directly under the charge of the National Security Advisor (NSA). Earlier, the Cabinet Secretary used to coordinate the activities of the SPG.
  • A dedicated think tank to monitor and assess China across the spectrum.
  • Formation of Defence Planning Committee (DPC)
  • National Security Advisory Board reconstituted with only four members while previous boards have had about fourteen members.
  • It is reported that National Security Strategy document is now ready to be presented for discussion at the highest level

Suggested outline of a National Security Doctrine

  • 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.
  • The doctrine must be accompanied by a national security strategy that spells out the command and control structures for meeting eventualities such as terror strikes.
  • The document should describe the geopolitical environment and how it has affected India.
  • The strategy document must identify the growing challenge of terrorism and asymmetric warfare for Indian security.
  • It must pay special attention to the neighbouring countries, the extended neighbourhood and Indian Ocean.
  • 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.


  • Reforms is the manpower policy: Major reforms is the manpower policy of the Government is required for intelligence and security agencies. It has been repeatedly recognised that these services should not be treated as ‘normal’ bureaucracies.
  • Difficulty in coordination: The departmental interests are very strong and it becomes difficult to synchronise them. There is no common understanding among various segments of the government of what national security constitutes.
  • No political consensus: There is no political consensus in the country on national security issues. For instance, there is no consensus on how to treat challenges from Pakistan and China. The government’s policies on these issues have fluctuated.


It is important to underline that a National Security Strategy document should be realistic and balanced. While recognizing the challenges, it should also underline the opportunities. For, a successful national security strategy can give a fillip to our national consciousness, economy and socio-economic development, thus creating a calmer environment conducive for national development.

For an effective implementation of National Security Strategy, a wide range of governance reforms will be needed. Governance can be overhauled only through a thorough going reform of the electoral system, the criminal justice system, etc.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/kashmir-attack-pulwama-pakistan-jaish-e-mohammad-militancy-needed-policy-not-reaction-5588434/

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