The NSCS was formed two decades ago, as an outcome of the elaborate post-Kargil review.
India is an executive government agency tasked with advising the Prime Minister’s Office on matters of national security and strategic interest. It was established by the former prime minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 19 November 1998, with Brajesh Mishra as the first National Security Advisor.
In a recent development, The National Security Council Secretariat, which reports to National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, has been brought into the government’s Allocation of Business (AOB) rules, thus granting it constitutional recognition and legal authority.
The amendment to government’s rules of business, also gives an official description to the role of National Security Advisor as “the principal advisor on national security matters to the prime minister”.
It also makes it clear that the NSCS will be the secretariat for the PM-led National Security Council (NSC).
The NSCS, also called the Rashtriya Suraksha Parishad Sachivalaya, has been enumerated right after NITI Aayog at number 50 in the first schedule of the AOB rules.
The amendment to the rules, which was done on August 6 when Parliament was debating the withdrawal of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir, provides the NSA with a clearer domain and authority.
In PM Narendra Modi’s second term, Ajit Doval was given the parliamentary rank, and he is already heading The Strategic Policy Group (SPG).
On June 3, 2019 he was reappointed as NSA for 5 years and was given Union Cabinet Minister Rank.
He is widely credited for the doctrinal shift in Indian national security policy in relation to Pakistan. Switching from ‘Defensive’ to ‘Defensive Offensive’ as well as the ‘Double Squeeze Strategy.’
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. Earlier, Cabinet Secretary was its chairman, but now National Security Advisor is the chairman of the group.
To enlist NSCS is Allocation of Business rule, mainstreams the NSCS and gives it the authority to service the NSC, SPG and even the DPG.
It can now generate cabinet notes, access relevant cabinet proposals and partake in inter-ministerial deliberations just like any other government department.
Until now, the Cabinet Secretary would have to send out periodic reminders to various ministries to route relevant notes through the NSCS for comments.
The NSCS was formed two decades ago, to assist the then newly created NSA’s post and was housed within the cabinet secretariat.
In 2002, it was brought under the PMO. The Strategic Policy Group was created then under the cabinet secretary with the NSA as the member.
This was changed last year when Doval was made head of a reconstituted SPG and the NSCS was tasked to service it.
The NSCS, has expanded hugely over the years, especially under Doval. It now has four broad wings – strategic affairs, military, internal security as well as foreign and intelligence – headed by either a Deputy NSA or an officer of that seniority.
It even sends proposals to the Cabinet after taking special permission, which will now not be needed.
Through this amendment to AOB, the government has firmed up a clear structure for the NSC, which comprises the PM, the home minister, the defence minister, the finance minister and the external affairs minister.
The national security has always been a priority for the Modi Government. With Ajit Doval taking charge as NSA India has already seen a tremendous changes in the matter of internal security and also the response to the attempts of terrorists acts have been lethal.
By taking one step at a time to fortify the internal and foreign security, Modi Government is sending a clear signal, that a new, powerful, a strong decision making India has arrived on the map.
Dr. Sindhu Prashanth