National Security Doctrine

iasparliament Logo
June 27, 2024

Why in news?

Recently, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) made a comment about the formulation of a National Security Strategy (NSS).  

What is a National Security Strategy?

  • NSS – National Security Strategy is a document that outlines the country’s security objectives, and the ways of adopting them.
  • Updated periodically, it defines traditional, non-traditional threats and opportunities.
  • It also introduces accountability of agencies tasked with the implementation of such responsibilities.
  • National level doctrines – These are formulated and approved at the highest echelons of government.
    • For example: The Nuclear Doctrine
  • Lower doctrines - These are formulated at the military-strategic, operational, and tactical levels for different levels of war-fighting (in the military) or tackling internal disorder (for police/ paramilitary forces).



Doctrine is a set of established or agreed principles that guide actions.

Strategy is a plan of action that emanates from doctrine.


Normally it precedes a strategy.

Normally, it is devised after a doctrine.

They are more permanent.

Relativeky less permenant in nature.

They must be reviewed periodically

With every update in doctrine, the strategy must be reviewed.


Why do India need NSS?

  • Worrying status of defence planning – The new formats of the Integrated Capability Plan (10 years) and Defence Capability Acquisition Plan (5 years) are yet to stabilise.
  • The present system of reviews by the Parliamentary Standing Committee and Auditor General are sub-optimal.
  • There is lack of operational clarity and ease of decision making.
  • While theatre responses during the Doklam crisis were commendable, strategic guidance was vague and unclear.
  • The system suffers from over-centralisation.
  • There is also a larger issue of the role of the multiple institutions that are dealing with national defence.
    • National Security Council
    • Chief of Defence Staff
    • Chiefs of Staff Committee
  • Recommendations for NSSVarious committees have had recommended security strategies on similar lines.
  • Subrahmanyam Committee Report (1979) – It emphasized the need for credible minimum deterrence and an integrated approach to national security.
  • Kargil Review Committee Report (2000) – It recommended comprehensive national security reforms post-Kargil conflict.
  • Naresh Chandra Task Force (2012) – It highlighted the need for a formal NSS to guide security reforms.
  • Steps taken by India – An apex-level Defence Planning Committee chaired by the National Security Advisor was set up in 2018 to formulate the NSS and National Defence Strategy.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) would accord final approval.
  • However, the status and progress of the much-publicised exercise are not known.  

The US, the UK and Russia have published national security strategies. India’s neighbor’s like China and Pakistan have also released such strategy documents

What are the importance of developing NSS?

  • Comprehensive threat assessment – An NSS would provide a systematic approach to identifying and addressing internal and external threats, ranging from terrorism and cyber-attacks to border conflicts and climate change.
  • Policy coherence – It would ensure that various security policies and actions are aligned, avoiding duplication and ensuring that all arms of government work towards common objectives.
  • Efficient resource allocation – An NSS would help prioritize and allocate resources efficiently, ensuring that the most critical security needs are addressed with adequate funding and attention.
  • Clear strategies and priorities – It would offer clear guidance and objectives for India's defense and security agencies, fostering a unified direction in safeguarding national interests.
  • International Credibility – Having a documented strategy enhances India’s credibility on the global stage, demonstrating a proactive and organized approach to national and regional security.
  • Increases public awareness and supportAn NSS can increase public understanding and support for national security measures, fostering a sense of shared responsibility and resilience.
  • Enhance inter-Governmental Coordination – It would enhance coordination between different government departments and agencies, ensuring a holistic approach to security issues.
  • Promote national growth – A well-crafted NSS would foster a “whole of nation” approach and build synergy for harnessing comprehensive national power (CNP).
  • It would also enable the setting of milestones for capability-building for modernisation, infrastructure and the Atma Nirbhar mission.

What are the major challenges in formulating a NSS?

  • Diverse Security Threats India contends with a wide range of security threats, including border conflicts, terrorism, cyber threats, internal insurgencies, and natural disasters, making it difficult to prioritize and address all effectively.
  • Lack of inter-agency coordination – Coordinating among numerous security and intelligence agencies, each with its mandate and priorities, is challenging and can lead to inefficiencies and gaps in the strategy.
  • Lack of political consensus – It is difficult in a diverse and democratic country like India, where different political parties have varying perspectives on security issues.
  • Challenges in resource allocation – It is challenging, especially in the face of competing priorities such as economic development and social welfare.
  • Conflicting geopolitical environmentIndia’s strategic environment is influenced by complex relationships with neighboring countries and major powers, which can complicate the formulation of a coherent and effective NSS.
  • Balancing civil liberties and security – Ensuring that security measures do not infringe on civil liberties and democratic values is a delicate balance that must be maintained.
  • Regional VariationsAddressing the unique security concerns of different regions within India, such as the northeastern states, Jammu and Kashmir, and Naxalite-affected areas, adds to the complexity of creating a unified NSS.

What lies ahead?

  • Foster political consensus and bipartisan support – It can be done by involving all major political parties in its formulation and ensuring transparency in the process.
  • Address regional issues – Customize the NSS to address the specific security concerns of different regions within India, ensuring a localized approach while maintaining a cohesive national strategy.
  • Differentiate civilian and military document – The NSS would contain several features that may not be appropriate for public release.
  • There will thus be a need for two versions, one for the public and one strictly for a classified readership.
  • Regular review and audit – Establish a process for regular review and audit of the NSS to ensure its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments based on feedback and changing circumstances.  


  1. The Indian Express| Need of National security Strategy
  2. The Wire| Challenges in formulating NSS
Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.



Free UPSC Interview Guidance Programme