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Rajesh asked: What is Comprehensive National Security? How does it formulate a country's national interest?

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  • A Vinod Kumar replies: Comprehensive national security could entail the mobilisation, consolidation and operationalisation of full spectrum of tools, structures and capabilities for the fulfillment of national security objectives. This could include not just military or defence structures and capabilities, but also could encompass all other domains which have a national security imprint or implication. In a typical case like India, national security objectives could also include elements of economic security, human security, environmental security, social components, as well as all aspects of external relations, interactions and influences that have latent or patent implications for national security. Put differently, the formulation of a nation’s grand strategy could be substantially driven by the purpose of attaining comprehensive national security goals.

    National security, whether approached in limited or comprehensive terms, forms only one of the significant components that shape a country’s national interest. Notwithstanding its primacy and innate link to national interest, national security need not be its sole determinant. For, national interest is a broader concept that cannot be seen in singular dimensions or as a unitary construct. National interest is usually articulated by the apparatus of the State or the dominant political dispensation and pursued as a national project through its uniform identification and mobilisation of assets of national power. Yet, this pursuit would not be limited to a governmental-level activity or confined to the State structures, even if the policies of the government are influenced by its own conceptions of national interest.

    In a politically and socially diverse country like India, the idea of national interest could be interpreted in their divergent, diffused and dispersed contexts. For example, the idea of national interest as conceived in one part of the country could be quite different from that of in another part of the country. Similarly, the conceptions of national interest could substantially vary from one to another political ideology. It may also have different connotations for different sections of people even within a region.

    Posted on January 25, 2019