India does not have a National Security Strategy (NSS) document in the public domain, which typically delineates the nation’s security objectives and strategies. The absence of this document has been a subject of prolonged discussion, dating back to over two decades old recommendations of the Kargil War Review Committee. However, indications suggest that this wait might soon conclude, as the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) is poised to release the NSS document.
In an interview with Nitin A. Gokhale, the Editor-in-Chief of BharatShakti, Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta (Retd), the recently retired former Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, sheds light on the reasons behind India’s lack of such a document thus far. He also delves into the necessity of having such documents and articulating the NSS in the public domain measures being undertaken to bring forth a comprehensive National Security Strategy.
According to Admiral Dasgupta, devising such a document demands a high level of national maturity. Crafting it necessitates maturity and requires the ability to articulate a comprehensive strategy. Furthermore, the document should be flexible to adapt to changes dictated by the evolving geo-strategic landscape and prevailing circumstances.
The interview primarily focuses on two key issues: the imperative need to formalise a National Security Strategy (NSS) and the importance of making the NSS publicly accessible. From the outset, it is crucial to acknowledge that our ability to articulate such a document is hindered by the historical scarcity of strategic think tanks, which play a substantial role and have been relatively scarce until the past couple of decades. Consequently, the discourse on the NSS has been limited, Dasgupta explained.
He emphasised that the NSS should comprehensively address all facets of national security, encompassing not only military aspects but also non-military areas such as climate, economic concerns, domestic issues, and citizens’ rights. The NSS must be rooted in our constitutional framework, providing the necessary guidance for all aspects. Shaping the NSS should be informed by an environmental scan, with the armed forces developing their doctrines in alignment with the NSS.
Regarding the public domain, the former naval commander observed that there should be two versions of the document. A portion of the NSS should be made public to inform our population, neighbours, and the global community about our approach to national security, thereby avoiding ambiguity. The second version should be exclusively accessible to relevant establishments’ political and security leadership.
On the need to have such documents, he said it is now opportune to articulate an NSS, particularly in the military domain, to enhance the coordination of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the anticipated reorganisation into Theatre commands, and the roles of various agencies within a structured framework.
“A National Security Strategy is a document from which all other strategies and policies would flow. It is the overarching guiding framework of statements from which all the military and non-military stakeholders seek direction and derive their respective doctrines and strategies,” Dasgupta argued.
Note: Click the following web link to watch the full interview
Is National Security Strategy Articulation A Must?