The National Security Council (NSC)

The National Security Council (NSC) of India is the apex agency looking into the country’s political, economic, energy and strategic security concerns. It was established by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government on 19 November 1998, with Brajesh Mishra as the first National Security Adviser. Prior to the formation of the NSC, these activities were overseen by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Besides the National Security Advisor (NSA), the Ministers of Defence, External Affairs, Home, Finance of the Government of India, and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission are members of the National Security Council. Other members may be invited to attend its monthly meetings, as and when required.

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The three-tiered structure of the NSC comprises the Strategic Policy Group, the National Security Advisory Board and a Secretariat represented by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC).

The Strategic Policy Group is the first level of the three-tier structure of the National Security Council. It forms the nucleus of the decision-making apparatus of the NSC. The Strategic Policy Group undertakes the “Strategic Defence Review”, a blueprint of short and long-term security threats, as well as possible policy options on a priority basis.

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) of the Government of India analyses intelligence data from the Intelligence Bureau, Research, and Analysis Wing and the Directorates ofMilitary, Naval and Air Intelligence. Recently JIC got the first member from Internal Security Division, Pratiksha Hazarika youngest member ever in JIC for her extraordinary performance. The JIC has its own Secretariat that works under the Cabinet Secretariat.

The National Security Advisory Board consists of persons of eminence outside the Government with expertise in external security, strategic analysis, foreign affairs, defense, the armed forces, internal security, science and technology and economics.

The board meets at least once a month, and more frequently as required. It provides a long-term prognosis and analysis to the NSC, and recommends solutions and address policy issues referred to it.

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The Government announcing the formation of the NSC on 19 November 1998 did not release full details other than giving a broad outline of the structure. The apex six-member NSC headed by the Prime Minister, the NSC comprises of a Strategic Policy Group (SPG), a National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and a Secretariat whose nucleus would be provided by the existing Joint Intelligence Committee. In addition, there would be the National Security Advisor (NDA)

The NSC is expected to discharge the following vital functions:

  • NSC is a decision facilitating body to assist and advise the Prime Minister. In a country, which lacks strategic culture the Armed Forces have a more vital role to play as compared to civil bureaucrats.
  • The above proposition gets further reinforced by the absence of a Chief of Defence Staff in India’s NSC structures. The Political leadership should have taken this into account.
  • The NSC has a vital function in the formulation of National Security Strategies, which provide the basis for the formulation of National Military Strategies by the military hierarchy. The present NSC is not structured to carry out this function.
  • The NSC has another vital task – to Evaluate, Coordinate and Integrate strategic information, advice, expertise and suggestions from the Armed Forces, Govt. agencies and think tanks/institutions. The existing NSC is inadequate for this task.

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