National Security Doctrine

National security is a concept that a government, along with its parliaments, should protect the state and its citizens against all kinds of “national” crises through a variety of power projections, such as political power, diplomacy, economic power, military might, etc. This topic comes under GS-III of the IAS Exam.

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The Need for National Security

A country’s national security policy is determined by many factors, including external threats, geography, political culture, military capabilities, economic needs, elite opinion, popular opinion (in democracies), and its leaders’ perceptions of the country’s interests. This conceptual framework manifests itself as foreign policy or national security ‘doctrine’, which in turn guides leaders in conducting the foreign policy of a country. A national security doctrine helps the statesmen identify and prioritize that country’s geopolitical interests. India does not have any such ‘doctrine’ (Except the Army which has one drafted in 2004).

Note 1). Doctrine – Statement of government policy

2). National Security is a subject in the Union List (7th schedule) of the Indian Constitution.

Why do we need a National Security Doctrine?

1). India has seen crisis after crisis resulting from militancy, insurgency, terrorist attacks, unsettled border disputes, etc. For Ex, Terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase (2016), 26/11 Mumbai blasts, Church Street bomb blasts in Bangalore (2015), border disputes with China, Pakistan, Insurgency in the Northeast, etc. The list goes on and on.

The Pathankot debacle has triggered a serious debate on the need for a National Security Doctrine.

2). There is opacity in the functioning of Intelligence agencies. For Ex, no credible external audit happens, No cohesive command and control structure.

3).To fill the gaps in India’s security policy planning

Previous Attempts towards strengthening National Security:

  • National Security Council (NSC)(1998):

It advises the PM on matters of national security and strategic interest. Headed by the National Security Advisor. It has not lived up to expectations. Read more on National Security Council NSC on the given link.

  • Nuclear Doctrine (1999):

“Minimum credible nuclear deterrence” doctrine and “no first use” policy

Its major objective is to deter the use and threat of the use of nuclear weapons by any State or entity against India and its forces. Also, India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike but will respond with punitive retaliation if deterrence fails. It is confined to only one aspect of India’s security framework.

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Where can we draw inspiration from?

In the US, each President, on assuming charge, is required by law to make public the National Security Doctrine that his administration intends to follow. For Ex, the national security doctrine of the Obama Administration is the integration of diplomatic engagement, domestic economic discipline, and amity among communities at home with military power to bolster America’s standing in the world.

How will it look like?

National Security Doctrine + National Security Strategy

National Security Doctrine: It must encompass the totality of this country’s military, diplomatic, economic, and social policies that will protect and promote this country’s national security interests.

National Security Strategy: It must include the Command and control structures for meeting eventualities like terror strikes etc. Both the Doctrine and Strategy are interrelated.

Army Doctrine (2004):

  • Doctrine: Defines its role in national security. The primary role is to preserve national interests and safeguard sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity of India against any external threats by deterrence or by waging war. The secondary role is to assist Government agencies to cope with ‘proxy war’ and other internal threats and provide aid to civil authority when requisitioned for the purpose.
  • Strategy: To perform the above role, the Army has a command and control structure with the President of India as the Supreme Commander. Indian Army is controlled by the elected political leadership of the nation (Government of India). Executive control is exercised sequentially through the Union Cabinet, the Defence Minister, and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Ministry of Defence handles matters related to personnel, financial, and resource management.

Significance of National Security Doctrine

A National Security doctrine will play a crucial role in internal security in the following ways:

  • This would help in prompt and relevant decision-making as the decisions will be guided by the national security strategy enshrined in the doctrine. This would result in a consistent security response at the time of insurgences.
  • It would help in maintaining the proper coordination among security establishments at both Central and State level, and avoid terror attacks which occurred even when intelligence agencies have inputs but due to lack of coordination fail to prevent the attacks.
  • This would also make the security establishments more accountable in case of any failure to combat the terror attack.
  • Moreover, prompt and successful handling of such attacks would ensure peace, progress, and development in the country.

What purpose will it solve?

Will define India’s role in the world and its commitment to protecting the life, liberty, and interests of its people.

Need of the hour:

The immediate requirement is for the Union Government 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 so that a Pathankot-like situation never happens again.

Keywords: National security, Foreign policy, Doctrine, National Security Council, Nuclear Doctrine, Army Doctrine

How to approach for the Civil Services exam

  • General Studies 2:
    • a) Government policies
      b) Issues relating to the development
      c) Foreign Policy
  • General Studies 3:

a) Security challenges

Practice Questions:

For Prelims

  1. Cold Start is a doctrine developed by the Indian Armed Forces for use in a possible war with Pakistan.
  2. It was developed as the limitations of the Sundarji Doctrine were exposed after the attack on the Indian Parliament.

Which of the following is/are correct?

a). 1 only b) 2 only c). Both 1 & 2 d). Neither 1 nor 2

For Mains

1). A National Security Doctrine is the need of the hour for India. Examine

2). Recent terrorist attacks and other events have exposed the security lapses in India. What should be the measures that need to be taken to strengthen National Security?

3). The Pathankot issue has given a wakeup call to India concerning its National Security. Discuss

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