A talk on “National Security Planning in India” by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director VIF to 63rd NDC Course on Tuesday, 26 Sep 2023
Talking Points
National Security Planning in India
  1. Post Covid, Post Ukraine, the world is in a transition. The transitional phase brings a change in the balance of power in the world and also the rise of new players. A multi polar world will have new security challenges. A planet which is already stressed, over populated, there will further complicate the security scenario. The G20 has dwelled at these scenarios at some length. National security planning for 21st century will be a far more complex task than before.
  2. Given the constant flux in national security environment, it is necessary to take a periodic review of national security challenges and threats and plan for them. This can happen only if there is a process of formulating a national security strategy.
  3. A National security strategy document is the first step towards national security planning. Identifying national security challenges is the key step towards security planning. It would also suggest a holistic approach to deal with these challenges.
  4. The next challenge would be the planning process itself. Where are the resources, how can these be mobilised and will they be used? Which institution will do it?
  5. Also, the planning would have to be for the short term, medium term and the long term goals. Given the rapid changes in the security environment, the planning cannot be a very rigid process. There will have to be a method of mid-term course corrections.
  6. Since national security has military as well as non-military dimensions, a whole of government approach which synergies the efforts of different departments will be needed. But that will not be enough.
  7. In today’s world, the government will not find it easy to marshal all the resources. The cooperation of the private sector, civil society will also be needed. All of nation would need to be sensitized to national security challenges. The societal factors are also very important.
  8. India’s key national security challenges are China, Pakistan, terrorism, social cohesion, economic vulnerabilities, vulnerabilities in cyber, space, maritime, and information domains. The safety and protection of Indians living and working abroad, keeping the sea lines of communications open are also major challenges.
  9. India’s primary instruments of dealing with these challenges are the military, central armed police forces, the police, diplomacy, technological institutions, and the people.
  10. Although India does not have a national security strategy document in the public domain, it does not mean that it will not have one in future. India has managed its national security challenges well even without a formal national security document.
  11. There are several institutions within the Government, which are engaged in planning for national security challenges. Admittedly, in the absence of a national security strategy document, their efforts may not be synergized and coordinated. That is an issue that needs to be addressed.
  12. India set up a National Security Council in 1999. It is an advisory body headed by the prime minister and consisting of several key ministers who deal with national security matters as members. The National Security Council is an elaborate structure, which pivots around the National Security Advisor who has assumed an important role in India’s national security planning. The National Security Advisor is assisted by a National Security Council Secretariat, which has several verticals, each headed by a Deputy National Security Adviser. It also has a maritime security coordinator, a defence adviser, a cybersecurity coordinator. But NSC is not a planning body. However, the NSA heads the Defence Planning Committee which was set up in 2019.
  13. An important step has been taken in the recent past with the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff CDS after two-decade long debate. The CDS was set up in 2019 is looking at create a creation of theatre commands suited for Indian conditions. This is a work in progress it may take several years. CDS is also a member of the DPC.
  14. The reorganization of Indian armed forces around theatres will bring about a major change in the way Indian armed forces work. The most important change will be in the area of jointmanship.
  15. New technologies are impacting warfare deeply. The CDS will also look into the incorporation of modern technologies into the functioning of the armed forces. In this regard, cyber and space domains assume great importance. Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to revolutionize warfare. The future of weapons systems is AI. Combined with technologies like drones, surveillance, big data analysis, the future battle space will be high tech.
  16. However, this does not mean that traditional ways of fighting will disappear. The terrain will still remain important. The infantry will have to bear the brunt of fighting as before but it will have to take cognizance of new technologies, both offensive and defensive.
  17. The excessive reliance on the import of modern weapon systems, arms and ammunitions has been one of the weaknesses of the Indian armed forces. This issue is now beginning to be addressed by the government seriously. A series of wide-ranging defence reforms to build Atmanirbharta have been initiated. The emphasis on indigenised defence production, encouragement to Indian defence manufacturers and start-ups, defence exports, reform of DRDO, etcetera. These are early days but the results are positive.
  18. India is also leveraging its diplomacy to build durable defence partnerships. The concept of Indo Pacific has brought enhanced focus on maritime security and cooperation. The maritime dimension of India’s national security has been highlighted greatly in the recent past. India has today over 60 defence corporation agreements. These are designed to enhance India’s defence capabilities, bring about remote interoperability with other countries and facilitate sharing off defence infrastructure. The sharp increase in the number of joint exercises has also resulted in better preparedness of the armed forces. Furthermore, India has also emerged as a security provider in some cases.
  19. Technology will be the key determinant of India’s national security. Upgrading the technological base of Indian economy will be an integral part of national security planning. Several steps have been taken in this regard. India has made good progress in raising electronics manufacturing in the country. India today is one of the biggest manufacturers of mobile phones in the world it; has also made several advances in the use of digital infrastructure in economy and governance. These steps will have a positive impact on building fresh national security capabilities.
  20. Economic strength and resilience will be the foundation of India’s national security. India is already the fifth largest economy globally and is expected to become the third largest in the next few years. A large economic base will also mean that there will be more resources for national security. At the same time, several technologies being developed in India will have dual use.
  21. Nuclear deterrence pegged at a credible minimum level is the bedrock of India’s national security postures. India will need to continuously assess what is credible minimum level required for India’s national security in view of the rapidly changing nuclear postures of the nuclear armed countries including China and Pakistan.
  22. Border security management is crucial to India security. Over the years, Central Arm Police Forces (CAPFs) have been modernized but their challenges are also growing. Internal security is impacted by traditional fault lines in the society, instability in the neighbourhood, the phenomenal growth in organised crime, drugs, human trafficking, cyber crimes etc. There is a need to plan for these contingencies. The link between external and internal security cannot be ignored.
  23. The softer aspects of national security will also need attention. We have seen how the pandemic created supply chain disruptions, internal migrations and impactedthe economy. In the ultimate analysis, food, water, health, energy are also national security challenges. A national security planning approach will have to take on board these diffused but interconnected threats.
  24. Climate change and its consequences are upon us. The extreme weather events are becoming common. Disaster resilience is critical. India has considerable experience in this area. It has also taken a lead in organising CDRI. India has a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and State DMAs. The NDRF has played a critical role during disasters. Climate change will also impact the armed forces as the terrains are modified.
  25. India’s is now focusing on renewable energy in a big way. But energy dependency cannot be eliminated entirely. How to deal with energy issues energy security pin up non-disruptive way will be a major challenge for national security planners.
  26. The transition to electric vehicles has also enhanced the importance of critical materials like lithium and cobalt. The growing dependence on imports of these materials will be a vulnerability in the future; first off this will need to be addressed.
  27. The availability of skills and talent in security sector is going to be a major challenge. Education will be the key foundation for creating a skilled society. India’s new education policy is step in that direction. India will have to strengthen STEM education. Human resource management will assume high priority. A skilled workforce will reduce the gender gap will be necessary. The armed forces will need to hire technical experts from the civilian sectors.

Security planning for an uncertain future will be a formidable challenge. India would need to focus on formulating an appropriate national security strategy, white papers in different areas and put some of these in the public domain. Greater discussion and awareness will involve largest section of the society in national security endeavour.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
6 + 12 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
Contact Us