India’s International Cyber Operations: Tracing National Doctrine and Capabilities

by Arindrajit Basu
United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
Short Summary
Cybersecurity has been recognized by Indian decision-makers as a key foreign policy and security priority. However, at this stage, there has been no clear public articulation of any intention by India to conduct international cyber operations.

There is no publicly known overarching declaratory doctrine, policy or legislative framework that captures India’s strategic interests, ambitions and restraints in this arena. However, the cyber institutional machinery and policy landscape are evolving rapidly, with several new institutions set up in the last decade and several policies in the nascent stages of development or due to be released soon, most notably the National Cyber Security Strategy. Further, public statements by public officials on India’s cyber doctrine and operations could serve as evidence of intent to conduct international cyber operations.

Therefore, at this stage, India’s present capabilities and strategy can be inferred from an informed analysis of existing State practice and institutional architecture and a combined reading of existing laws and policies. However, India’s approach to cybersecurity is rooted in its appraisal of strategic interests. As these interests and threats evolve, India may more proactively disclose capabilities and frame a governing doctrine in order to robustly project power in cyberspace.

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