What is the Interagency Process and How is it Related to the NSC System? A Guide for Beginners

If you are interested in learning about the national security and foreign policy of India, you may have come across the terms “interagency process” and “NSC system”. But what do they mean and how are they related? In this article, we will explain the basics of these concepts and how they work together to shape India’s strategic interests and actions.

What is the Interagency Process?

The interagency process is a term that refers to the coordination and collaboration among different executive departments and agencies of the government on matters of national security and strategic interest. According to CSIS, a think tank based in Washington DC, the interagency process sits on top of a constitutional fault line in American governance, where the Congress has the authority to supervise the work of the executive branch, but the President has the power to direct foreign policy and national security

In India, the interagency process is similar to that of the United States, but with some differences. The Prime Minister is the head of the executive branch and has the ultimate authority over national security and foreign policy decisions. However, he or she is also accountable to the Parliament, which can scrutinize and question the government’s actions. The interagency process in India aims to ensure that the Prime Minister receives inputs and advice from various departments and agencies that have relevant expertise and responsibilities on national security issues.

What is the NSC System?

The NSC system is a short form for the National Security Council system, which 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 former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998, with Brajesh Mishra as the first National Security Advisor (NSA)

The NSC system is the apex body of a three-tiered structure of national security management in India. The three tiers are:

  • The Strategic Policy Group (SPG), which is chaired by the NSA and consists of senior officials from various departments and agencies, such as defence, external affairs, home, finance, intelligence, etc. The SPG forms the nucleus of the decision-making apparatus of the NSC system and meets regularly to discuss and review national security issues.
  • The National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), which is composed of eminent experts from various fields, such as academia, media, civil society, etc. The NSAB provides independent and long-term perspectives and recommendations to the NSC system on strategic and security matters.
  • The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which is headed by the NSA and provides administrative, operational and research support to the NSC system. The NSCS also coordinates with other departments and agencies on national security issues and oversees the implementation of NSC decisions.

The interagency process and the NSC system are closely related and interdependent. The interagency process provides inputs and feedback to the NSC system on various national security issues, while the NSC system provides guidance and direction to the interagency process on strategic objectives and priorities. The two mechanisms work together to ensure that India’s national security and foreign policy are coherent, consistent and effective.

The interagency process and the NSC system are also dynamic and evolving. They adapt to changing circumstances and challenges in India’s domestic and international environment. They also reflect the vision and style of the Prime Minister and his or her advisors. For example, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who assumed office in 2014, there has been an increase in the size and role of the NSC system, especially under NSA Ajit Doval There has also been a greater emphasis on proactive diplomacy, counter-terrorism, neighbourhood relations, maritime security, etc.


The interagency process and the NSC system are two important concepts that help us understand how India manages its national security and foreign policy. They are not static or rigid structures, but flexible and responsive mechanisms that aim to serve India’s strategic interests and goals. By learning about them, we can gain a better insight into India’s decision-making process and its role in regional and global affairs.

Doms Desk

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