India to bring in a National Security Strategy: what is it, why is it important?

India to bring in a National Security Strategy: what is it, why is it important?

Context- After years of deliberations in the military and strategic community, India has kickstarted the process of bringing in an National Security Strategy.

The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) is in the process of collating inputs from several Central ministries and departments to stitch together the draft of the strategy before seeking the final cabinet approval for it.

The exact timeline of when the strategy would be ready is yet to be known, even as multiple ministries have already sent their inputs to the NSCS on different aspects of the comprehensive document.

What is a National Security Strategy?

  • A National Security Strategy document outlines the country’s security objectives, and the ways to be adopted to achieve these.
  • Updated periodically, it defines traditional, non-traditional threats and opportunities while introducing accountability of agencies tasked with the implementation of such responsibilities.
  • In a nutshell, a national security strategy would guide the military as well as critical defence and security reforms with strategic implications, providing a holistic view of the overall national security, the threats and the roadmap to address them.
  • The exact contours of the strategy being drafted is not known, but it will likely include the entire range of newer challenges and modern threats facing India, including non-traditional ones such as financial and economic security, food and energy security, information warfare, vulnerabilities in India’s critical information infrastructure, as well as those associated with supply chains and environment.

Which countries have a National Security Strategy?

  • Most developed countries with an advanced military and security infrastructure have a National Security Strategy in place, updated from time to time. The US, the UK and Russia have published national security strategies.
  • China also has such a strategy in place, called the Comprehensive National Security, which is closely tied to its governance structure. Pakistan, too, has brought out a National Security Policy 2022-2026, underlining its national security objectives and priority areas.

India’s need for a National Security Strategy

  • A National Security Strategy for India has figured multiple times in military discourses and has long been discussed in the strategic community, but has failed to see the light of day despite three past attempts.
  • Some experts have also highlighted that major military reforms should ideally flow from a national security strategy.
  • At an event last month, former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon had said that India needs a national security strategy and, in the interim, a white paper on defence detailing its thinking on important issues.
  • Last year, former Army chief General MM Naravane (Retd), while delivering a talk at the 4th General K V Krishna Rao Memorial Lecture, said it was essential to draft a national security strategy before taking the theaterisation process forward.

Why did India never have a national security strategy?

  • Last month, former NSA Menon at an event said that in the past, three attempts were made to come out with a national security strategy, but there was hesitation at the political level.
  • He added that he sensed it could have been because of the accountability it would bring in defence management for the government.

Conclusion- There have been varying views in the strategic community in the past over why India has not brought out a national security strategy—from lack of a cohesive, whole-of-government effort, to the government deliberately not making public its national security objectives.

Syllabus- GS-3; Internal Security

Source- Indian Express