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India - Departments


Discussions about developing a National Security Council began in earnest in 1988, in line with the development of India’s nuclear and missile programs. The armed forces did not plan any long-term budgets back then, thus discarding their structures for the defense budget. Military officers and the Minister for Defense, K.C Pant, recognized the need for a national security planning institution. A proposal was drafted outlining the architecture of such a council. This was strongly resisted and contested by the army chief of staff, V.N. Sharma.

In 1990, another proposal for a national security council came forth amidst nuclear discussions with Pakistan. This was a bid to strengthen policymaking between the two countries. A body was formed with additions to an existing Cabinet Committee of Political Affairs. Once again, this was dropped due to the ministers and ministries’ apparent reluctance to cede authority and power. A decade-long power struggle between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress, international concerns over India’s nuclear development programs, and an apparent bureaucratic ego-clash caused further delay in setting

up the National Security Council.

India’s nuclear policy has always been a source of friction between India’s political and military leaders. Military leaders were long excluded from making nuclear policy due to many bureaucrats fear of shifting too much power to the military. The Vajpayee administration (BJP) in 1998 finally created the NSC. Since then, however, the prime minister has retained final authority over nuclear policy. Two years after the NSC’s establishment, military interests were integrated with political and scientific interests.

The historic Lahore Summit of 1999 was held in response to nuclear tests conducted by both India and Pakistan, which raised international concerns about the possibility of a nuclear crisis on the subcontinent. During this summit, power remained with then Indian PM A.B. Vajpayee and the National Security Council were sidelined, affirming that India’s nuclear policy was still controlled by its prime minister.

The formation of the council was initially disputed when proposed in 1995. NSC and the National Security Advisor position, which was first filled by Brijesh Mishra, were created in tandem.

Category: Advisor

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