The outlines of a national security policy

Synopsis: Once cyber-technology becomes a key variable in the defence policies of a nation, land size or GDP size are irrelevant.


In the 21st century, the world is moving to cyber weapons-based warfare. Therefore, after cyber-technology enters as an important variable in nations’ defence policies, the size of a country will cease to matter.

For instance, Sri Lanka, or North Korea, empowered by cyber-technology, will be equal to the United States, Russia, India or China, in their capability to cause unacceptable damage.

How Cyber technology is changing the warfare in 21st century?

Cyber warfare has vastly reduced the deterrent value with regards to size of a country since cyber weaponry will be available even to small island countries.

Warfare, therefore, will be not just be about mobilization of weapons or be dependent on the size of the armed forces of men. From remote controlled drones to artificial intelligence driven weapons systems, etc., the ability to deal damage will be independent of the size.

Each nation will have to prepare more for bilateral conflicts in the 21st century that are based on cyber warfare rather than in multilateral acts of conventional war or rely on military blocs for mobilization.

Hence, national security will encompass not merely the overt and covert operations. But, more crucially, electronic operations from a remote centre beyond the front lines of ground forces. Tracking those cyber warfare centres of the adversary will need a new national security policy.

What key elements should be given importance in India’s National Security Policy for 21st century?

National security at its root in the 21st century will depend on skills in the following four dimensions:

Objectives: the objective of the National Security Policy in the 21st century is to define what assets are required to be defended, the identity of opponents etc., Further, national security policy will have to address threats like Corona Pandemic in future by choosing a nation’s priorities.

Priorities: In scenarios of uncertainties about the future in the 21st century, national security priorities will require new departments for supporting several frontiers of innovation and technologies. These frontiers include hydrogen fuel cells, desalination of seawater, thorium for nuclear technology, anti-computer viruses, etc. This focus on a new priority will require compulsory science and mathematics education, especially in applications for analytical subjects.

Strategy: The strategy required for this new national security policy will be to anticipate our enemies in many dimensions and by demonstrative but limited pre-emptive strikes by developing a strategy of deterrence of the enemy. For India, it will be the China cyber capability factor which is the new threat for which it has to devise a new strategy. India should also look to build allies to boost cyber deterrence.

Resource mobilization: Lowering the interest rate on bank loans or raising the rates in fixed deposits will enable banks to obtain liquidity and lend liberally for enhancing investment for production. As a last resort printing of notes of currency can also be used as one way of facilitating resource mobilization.

Source: This post is based on the article “The outlines of a national security policy” published in The Hindu on 21st October 2021.

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