National Security Doctrine

National security is a concept that a government, along with its parliaments, should protect the state and its citizens against all kind of “national” crises.

  • A national security doctrine helps the statesmen identify and prioritize the country’s geopolitical interests. It encompasses the totality of the country’s military, diplomatic, economic and social policies that will protect and promote the country’s national security interests.
  • India does not have any such doctrine.

Need for India to have aNational Security Doctrine:

  • Porous international boundaries, growing terror threats, increasing insurgency within country demand government to envisage and formulate a National Security Doctrine for India.
  • The existence of such a document will dissuade adventurism and will reassure our citizens that appropriate measures are in place to protect us.
  • Many of India’s national security inadequacies stem from the absence of a national security/defence vision.
  • It will not only become the basis for strategy-formulation, contingency-planning and evolution of SOPs, but also send a reassuring message to our public.
  • It is necessary in the face of having nuclear-armed neighbours, Pakistan and China.
  • To define India’s role in the world and its commitment to protecting the life, liberty and interests of its people.
  • The country should have an overall national security document from which the various agencies and the arms of the armed forces draw their mandate and create their own respective and joint doctrines which would then translate into operational doctrines for tactical engagement.
  • In the absence of this, as is the case in India today, national strategy is broadly a function of ad-hocism and personal preferences.

Challenges in implementing a National Security Doctrine:

  • There is a skewed national security decision-making structure that is driven more by idealism and altruism, rather than by realpolitik imperatives.
  • National security has suffered neglect for decades due to pre-occupation of our politicians with electoral politics.
  • Defining national interests in a multi-party democracy like India that has representation across the ideological spectrum has been hard to achieve.
  • Decisions of national security are taken in individual silos rather than cross-domain exchange as subjects are inter-related.
  • There is opacity in the functioning of Intelligence agencies for instance there is no credible external audit that happens.
  • The agencies that are to provide security cover and neutralise terrorist threats do not have a cohesive command and control structure.
  • There has been a gap in political pronouncements in our military capabilities — material as well as organisational.

Way forward:

  • 5 key areas in draft National Security Policy that Shyam Saran, former chairman of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), has prepared and handed over to the government in January 2015: Domestic security, External security, Military preparedness, Economic security and Ecological security.
  • Strategic communication” is of overarching importance in National Security which must be improved. A command control and communication centre must be built.
  • The NSD should guide various doctrines related to external and internal security to fill a huge void in the higher defence management of the country.
  • The policy must go much beyond issues of national security and encapsulate the domain of constitutional rights as well.
  • It must take an all-inclusive approach to national security integrating diplomatic engagement, domestic economic discipline and amity among communities at home with military power.
  • We need to tailor our strategic defence doctrine to create long-term measures towards a deterrent based on severe retribution.
  • Emerging strategic technologies like Artificial Intelligence, robotics and miniaturised wars are likely to play an increasingly important role in future warfare, this must be taken care of.


  • Developing a National Security Doctrine is as much about the future vision of a country as it is about its past. The need of the hour is to put together a National Security Doctrine that should have political consensus, publicly transparent and should reflect the complex challenges facing the country. The doctrine must be accompanied by a national security strategy.