ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Time to Bell the Cat

Why has India failed to formulate a national security doctrine?

The aftermath of the recent attack on the Pathankot Air Force station and the obvious mishandling of it by the top security establishment of the country has led to renewed calls for a “national security doctrine.” This is not a new demand and keeps coming up every few years. There was a concerted campaign to formulate such a doctrine after the terror attacks on Mumbai in November 2008. A similar call had been raised after the intrusion of Pakistan’s military personnel into India-held territory in Kargil in 1999 and the terrorist attack on Parliament in 2001.

Despite these repeated demands, the Indian state has failed to formulate such a “national” doctrine. The Mumbai attack of 2008 did not lead to any doctrine but did lead to a set of policy proposals to establish the National Investigation Agency, National Counter-Terrorism Centre and National Intelligence Grid. These were, in the guise of a considered approach to strengthening national security, nothing more than shoddy attempts to centralise more power and authority with the unaccountable intelligence system, which met a deserved end with protests from both state governments as well as political and civil society groups.

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