Examining ‘Deemed Consent’ for Credit-Scoring under India’s Draft Data Protection Law

By Shobhit Shukla

On November 22, 2022, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology released India’s draft data protection law, the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 (‘Bill’).* The Bill sets out certain situations in which seeking an individual’s consent for processing of their personal data is “impracticable or inadvisable due to pressing concerns”. In such situations, the individual’s consent is assumed; further, they are not required to be notified of such processing. One such situation is for processing in ‘public interest’. The Bill also illustrates certain public-interest purposes and notably, includes ‘credit-scoring’ as a purpose, in Clause 8(8)(d). Put simply, the Bill allows an individual’s personal data to be processed non-consensually and without any notice to them, where such processing is for credit-scoring.

Evolution of credit-scoring in India

Credit-scoring is a process by which a lender (or its agent) assesses an individual’s creditworthiness i.e., their notional capacity to repay their prospective debt, as represented by a numerical credit score. Until recently, lenders in India relied largely on credit scores generated by credit information companies (‘CICs’), licensed by the Reserve Bank of India (‘RBI’) under the Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005 (‘CIC Act’). CICs collect and process ‘credit information’, as defined under the CIC Act, to generate such scores. Such information, for an individual, comprises chiefly of the details of their outstanding loans and history of repayment/defaults. However, with the expansion of digital footprints and advancements in automated processing, the range of datasets deployed to generate credit scores has expanded significantly. Lenders are increasingly using credit scores generated algorithmically by third-party service-providers. Such agents aggregate and process a wide variety of alternative datasets relating to an individual, alongside credit information – these may include the individual’s employment history, social media activity, and web browsing history. This allows them to build a highly data-intensive credit profile of (and assign a more granular credit score to) the individual, to assist lenders in deciding whether to extend credit. Not only does this enable lenders to make notionally better-informed decisions, but also to assess and extend credit to individuals with meagre or no prior access to formal credit.

While neither the Bill nor its explanatory note explain why credit-scoring constitutes a public-interest ground for non-consensual processing, it may be viewed as an attempt to remove the procedural burden associated with notice-and-consent. In the context of credit-scoring, if lenders (or their agents) are required to provide notice and seek consent at each instance to process the numerous streams of an individual’s personal data, the procedural costs may disincentivise them from accessing certain data-streams. Consequently, with limited data to assess credit-risk, lenders may adopt a risk-averse approach and avoid extending credit to certain sections of individuals. Alternatively, they may decide to extend credit despite the supposed inadequacy of personal data, thereby exposing themselves to higher risk of repayment defaults. While the former approach would be inimical to financial inclusion, the latter could possibly result in accumulation of bad loans on lenders’ balance sheets. Thus, encouraging data-intensive credit-scoring (for better-informed credit-decisions and/or for widening access to credit) may conceivably be viewed as a legitimate public interest.

However, in this post, I contend that even if this were to be accepted, a complete exemption from notice-and-consent for credit-scoring, poses a disproportionate risk to individuals’ right to privacy and data protection. The efficacy of notice-and-consent in enhancing informational autonomy remains debatable; however, a complete exemption from the requirement, without any accompanying safeguards, ignores specific concerns associated with credit-scoring.

Deemed consent for credit-scoring: Understanding the risks

First, the provision allows non-consensual processing of all forms of personal data, regardless of any correlation of such data with creditworthiness. In effect, this would encourage lenders to leverage the widest possible range of personal datasets. As research has demonstrated, the deployment of disparate datasets increases incidences of inaccuracy as well as of spurious connections between the data-input and the output. In credit-scoring, historical data using which the underlying algorithm is trained may conclude, for instance, that borrowers from a certain social background are likelier to default in repayment. Credit-scores generated from such fallacious and/or unverifiable conclusions can embed systemic disadvantages into future credit-decisions and deepen the exclusion of vulnerable groups. The exemption from notice-and-consent would only increase the likelihood of such exclusion – this is since individuals would not have any knowledge of the data-inputs used, or the algorithm using which such data-inputs were processed and consequently, no recourse against any credit-decisions arrived at via such processing.

Second, the provision allows any entity to non-consensually process personal data for credit-scoring. Notably, CICs are specifically licensed by the RBI to, inter alia, undertake credit-scoring. Additionally, in November 2021, the RBI amended the Credit Information Companies Regulations, 2006, to provide an avenue for entities (other than CICs) to register with any CIC, subject to the fulfilment of certain eligibility criteria, and to consequently access and process credit information for lenders. By allowing any entity to process personal data (including credit information) for credit-scoring, the Bill appears to undercut the RBI’s attempt to limit the processing of credit information to entities under its purview.

Third, the provision allows non-consensual processing of personal data for credit-scoring at any instance. A plain reading suggests that such processing may be undertaken even before the individual has expressed any intention to avail credit. Effectively, this would provide entities a free rein to pre-emptively mine troves of an individual’s personal data. Such data could then be processed for profiling the individual and behaviourally targeting them with customised advertisements for credit products. Clearly, such targeted advertising, without any intimation to the individual and without any opt-out, would militate against the individual’s right to informational self-determination. Further, as an RBI-constituted Working Group has noted, targeted advertising of credit products can promote irresponsible borrowing by individuals, leading them to debt entrapment. At scale, predatory lending enabled by targeted advertisements could perpetuate unsustainable credit and pose concerns to economic stability.

Alternatives for stronger privacy-protection in credit-scoring

The above arguments demonstrate that the complete exemption from notice-and-consent for processing of personal data for credit-scoring, threatens individual rights disproportionately. Moreover, the exemption may undermine precisely the same objectives that policymakers may be attempting to fulfil via the exemption. Thus, Clause 8(8)(d) of the Bill requires serious reconsideration.

First, I contend that Clause 8(8)(d) may be deleted before the Bill is enacted into law. In view of the CIC Act, CICs and other entities authorised by the RBI under the CIC Act shall, notwithstanding the deletion of the provision, continue to be able to access and process credit information relating to individual without their consent – such processing shall remain subject to the safeguards contained in the CIC Act, including the right of the individual to obtain a copy of such credit information from the lender.

Alternatively, the provision may be suitably modified to limit the exemption from notice-and-consent to certain forms of personal data. Such personal data may be limited to ‘credit information’ (as defined under the CIC Act) or ‘financial data’ (as may be defined in the Bill before its enactment) – resultantly, the processing of such data for credit-scoring would not require compliance with notice-and-consent. The non-consensual processing of such forms of  data (as opposed to all personal data), which carry logically intuitive correlations with creditworthiness, shall arguably correspond more closely to the individual’s reasonable expectations in the context of credit-scoring. An appropriate delineation of this nature would provide transparency in processing and also minimise the scope of fallacious and/or discriminatory correlations between data-inputs and creditworthiness.

Finally, as a third alternative, Clause 8(8)(d) may be modified to empower a specialised regulatory authority to notify credit-scoring as a purpose for non-consensual processing of data, but within certain limitations. Such limitations could relate to the processing of certain forms of personal data (as suggested above) and/or to certain kinds of entities specifically authorised to undertake such processing. This position would resemble proposals under previous versions of India’s draft data protection law, i.e. the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 and the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 – both draft legislations required any exemption from notice-and-consent to be notified by regulations. Further, such notification was required to be preceded by a consideration of, inter alia, individuals’ reasonable expectations in the context of the processing. In addition to this balancing exercise, the Bill may be modified to require the regulatory authority to consult with the RBI, before notifying any exemption for credit-scoring. Such consultation would facilitate harmonisation between data protection law and sectoral regulation surrounding financial data.

*For our complete comments on the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022, please click here – https://bit.ly/3WBdzXg) 

Working paper release: ‘Tackling the dissemination and redistribution of NCII’

Aishwarya Girdhar & Vasudev Devadasan

Today, the Centre for Communication Governance (CCG) is happy to release a working paper titled ‘Tackling the dissemination and redistribution of NCII’ (accessible here). The dissemination and redistribution of non-consensual intimate images (“NCII”) is an issue that has plagued platforms, courts, and lawmakers in recent years. The difficulty of restricting NCII is particularly acute on ‘rogue’ websites that are unresponsive to user complaints. In India, this has prompted victims to  petition courts to block webpages hosting their NCII. However, even when courts do block these webpages, the same NCII content may be re-uploaded at different locations. 

The goal of our proposed solution is to: (i) reduce the time, cost, and effort associated with victims having to go to court to have their NCII on ‘rogue’ websites blocked; (ii) ensure victims do not have to re-approach courts for the blocking of redistributed NCII; and (iii) provide administrative, legal, and social support to victims. 

Our working paper proposes the creation of an independent body (“IB”) to: maintain a hash database of known NCII content; liaise with government departments to ensure the blocking of webpages hosting NCII; potentially crawl targeted areas of the web to detect known NCII content; and work with victims to increase the awareness of NCII related harms and provide administrative and legal support. Under our proposed solution, victims would be able to simply submit URLs hosting their NCII to a centralised portal maintained by the IB. The IB would then vet the victim’s complaint, coordinate with government departments to block the URL, and eventually hash and add the content to a database to combat redistribution. 

This will significantly reduce the time, money, and effort exerted by victims to have their NCII blocked, whether at the stage of dissemination or redistribution. The issue of redistribution can also potentially be tackled through a targeted, proactive crawl of websites by the IB for known NCII pursuant to a risk impact assessment. Our solution envisages several safeguards to ensure that the database is only used for NCII, and that lawful content is not added to the database. Chief amongst these is the use of multiple human reviewers to vet the complaints made by victims and a public interest exemption where free speech and privacy interests may need to be balanced. 

A full summary of our recommendations are as follows:

  • Efforts should be made towards setting up an independently maintained hash database for NCII content. 
  • The hash database should be maintained by the IB, and it must undertake stringent vetting processes to ensure that only NCII content is added to the database.
  • Individuals and vetted technology platforms should be able to submit NCII content for inclusion into the database; NCII content removed pursuant to a court order can also be included in the database.
  • The IB may be provided with a mandate to proactively crawl the web in a targeted manner to detect copies of identified NCII content pursuant to a risk impact assessment. This will help shift the burden of identifying copies of known NCII away from victims. 
  • The IB can supply the DoT with URLs hosting known NCII content, and work with victims to alleviate the burdens of locating and identifying repeat instances of NCII content. 
  • The IB should be able to work with organisations to provide social, legal, and administrative support to victims of NCII; it would also be able to coordinate with law enforcement and regulatory agencies in facilitating the removal of NCII.

Our working paper draws on recent industry efforts to curb NCII, as well as the current multi-stakeholder approach used to combat child-sex abuse material online. However, our regulatory solution is specifically targeted at restricting the dissemination and redistribution of NCII on ‘rogue’ websites that are unresponsive to user complaints. We welcome inputs from all stakeholders as we work towards finalising our proposed solution. Please send comments and suggestions to <ccg@nludelhi.ac.in>.

Link to Working Paper.

A fundamental right to virtual court hearings

This blog post has been authored by Shrutanjaya Bhardwaj.

The pandemic has brought about a paradigm shift in the way justice is delivered in India. To adapt to the exigencies of the situation, courts have shifted to a model that allows virtual (online) hearings. Hearings have been exclusively virtual during phases of the pandemic, i.e., during lockdowns. In 2020 alone, the Supreme Court conducted 43,713 virtual hearings as per a Standard Operating Protocol issued for this purpose. When the public health situation has improved, courts have experimented with “hybrid” hearings where parties could choose to appear either physically or virtually.

Diverging views have been expressed by lawyers and judges on the desirability of continuing virtual hearings even in the absence of lockdowns. Some lawyers have supported the continuation of virtual hearings, contending that they reduce public movement, thus helping prevent the spread of the virus. In November 2021, a group of more than 100 women lawyers wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India requesting that hybrid hearings be allowed to continue because digitally equipped courts are “more equal for women lawyers,” especially those with care-giving responsibilities. A contrary view is that some lawyers, especially those at the Supreme Court and national tribunals who rely on an inflow of cases from outside Delhi, have suffered due to virtual hearings. This is in part because (when physical hearings are the norm) lawyers from outside Delhi find it inconvenient to travel to Delhi and handle the case on their own, incentivising them to engage a Delhi-based lawyer. With virtual hearings, outstation lawyers would have little incentive to engage a Delhi-based lawyer to handle cases. Another concern is that virtual hearings prevent junior advocates from getting noticed while assisting their seniors in court, which in turn reduces their chances of getting briefs.

While acknowledging the validity of these concerns, this piece explores the legal question of whether litigants have a fundamental right to opt for virtual court hearings. At the outset, it is clarified that this post does not envisage a prohibition on physical hearings, for that would overlook India’s digital divide — not all lawyers and litigants have access to a stable computer and high-speed internet services. The limited argument advanced is that the virtual option could be insisted on as a matter of right. Further, it is treated as a given that certain judicial functions cannot be exercised virtually, such as habeas corpus petitions (that require the physical production of the detenu), production of the accused before a Magistrate within 24 hours of arrest (this again involves physical production), or in camera proceedings, e.g. in matrimonial disputes under the Family Courts Act, 1984 (for which the Supreme Court has ruled that video conferencing is not permissible).

A right to access courts

The fundamental right to access justice stems inter alia from Articles 14, 19(1)(a), 21, 32, and 226 of the Constitution. There are two possible conceptions of this right. The broader conception views the litigant as an active participant in the litigation process—constantly giving feedback to their lawyer, demanding accountability, ensuring that their perspective and views find reflection in the case ultimately prepared and presented before the court, and generally being in-charge of their case. Under the narrower conception, the litigant is understood as a dormant stakeholder, far removed from the actual process of litigation because they have handed over their brief to the lawyer, whom they have no option but to trust.

To be meaningful, the right to access justice must be understood broadly to allow the litigant to monitor and control their case. Under the broader conception, then, the bare minimum requirement of access to justice is access to the courtroom itself. In a non-Covid world, this would imply that the litigant must have the option to remain physically present inside the courtroom when the matter is argued. This is not only to enable the litigant to evaluate their lawyer’s performance more accurately—which could theoretically be achieved simply by live-streaming proceedings—but also to allow them to assist the lawyer on a minute-to-minute basis based on the questions that fall from the bench.

Further, many litigants may choose to not engage a lawyer and argue their cases themselves, in which case—whether one accepts the narrow or the broad conception of the right to access justice—litigants must have access to courts.

The pandemic poses a unique and specific challenge with respect to access to courts, i.e., exposing oneself to a physical courtroom entails the risk of being infected, especially during an ongoing wave of infections. This is aggravated by the severe overcrowding that characterizes many of India’s courtrooms. The fact that courtrooms are plagued by congestion was noted by the Supreme Court in a 2018 judgment on live streaming of court proceedings. In fact, only two months before the first wave arrived, the then-CJI lamented the “severe problem” of overcrowded courtrooms even in the Supreme Court. Given such congestion, social distancing norms and the wearing of masks are much harder to enforce, especially in the subordinate courts that lack proper infrastructure and staff. Insisting on physical hearings, therefore, straightaway implies that the litigant must choose between their right to access justice and taking requisite health safety precautions during the pandemic.

Distance and Inequality

With respect specifically to the Supreme Court—which sits only in Delhi and has no other benches—virtual hearings also serve as an eliminator of inequality. Research has shown that litigants situated geographically closer to Delhi file more cases in the Supreme Court compared to litigants situated further away. One likely cause for this contrast is that faraway litigants are deterred by the time and cost required to travel to Delhi and litigate their dispute in the Supreme Court. It was perhaps in anticipation of this difficulty that Article 130 of the Constitution allowed additional benches of the Supreme Court to be set up by the Chief Justice of India in consultation with the President; however, that power has never been exercised. (Similar concerns would apply to central benches of other adjudicatory bodies, e.g., principal benches of national tribunals.)

Further, though comparative research for High Courts is not available, one can extrapolate that geographically larger states would face similar problems with litigants finding it difficult to manage the time and cost of travelling to the city in which the High Court is situated. To combat this and ensure accessibility, several large states have multiple benches across the state. Even in respect of subordinate courts, it is a common litigation strategy to file cases in faraway courts to harass opponents.  

Evolutionary reading of Article 19(1)(a)

Harassment of this nature was hard to address before the advent of video conferencing technology. But the Constitution must be receptive to technological advancement; our understanding of rights must change with evolving technological realities, and technological means should be used wherever possible to prevent and redress constitutional violations. On the issue of open courts, the Supreme Court adopted an evolutionary understanding of the right to receive information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The earliest case to authoritatively rule on the right of the public to access courts was Kehar Singh (1988). The Supreme Court had held:

The courts like other institutions also belong to people. They are as much human institutions as any other. The other instruments and institutions of the State may survive by the power of the purse or might of the sword. But not the courts. The courts have no such means or power. The courts could survive only by the strength of public confidence. The public confidence can be fostered by exposing courts more and more to public gaze.

The Kehar Singh Court obviously had only physical court hearings in mind. But these observations were loyally carried forward in later cases, and eventually in 2018, the Court acknowledged the immense role that technology can play in ensure open access to courts, and held that open live streaming of court proceedings was a fundamental right protected by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution:

“By providing “virtual” access of live court proceedings to one and all, it will effectuate the right of access to justice or right to open justice and public trial, right to know the developments of law and including the right of justice at the doorstep of the litigants. Open justice, after all, can be more than just a physical access to the courtroom rather, it is doable even “virtually” in the form of live streaming of court proceedings and have the same effect.

(emphasis supplied)

Similarly, the rights of access to justice must be interpreted in consonance with technological advancements. Virtual hearings—which render distance meaningless—must now be understood as flowing from two distinct constitutional guarantees. The first is access to justice, which includes the right of the litigant to remain present in the courtroom. The second is the positive guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” under Article 14 of the Constitution, which implies equal opportunity for all litigants to access courts. Denying the option of virtual hearings to litigants would breach both these constitutional guarantees.


Conversations around continuation of virtual hearings—during and post the pandemic—must consider the fundamental rights of litigants to access courtrooms and to take reasonable health safety precautions to remain safe during the pandemic. While other policy concerns must be taken seriously, including the unique concerns of the members of the Bar discussed in the Introduction section, these cannot trump rights considerations flowing from Part III of the Constitution.

This blog was written with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

Technology & National Security Reflection Series Paper 4: Redefining National Security

Animesh Chaudhary*

About the Author: The author is a 2021 graduate of National Law University, Delhi. He is currently working at Rural Electrification Corporation Limited.

Editor’s note: This post is part of the Reflection Series showcasing exceptional student essays from CCG-NLUD’s Seminar Course on Technology & National Security Law.


“National Security” is one of the foremost concerns of any nation state. However, the meaning of this term has acquired an overwhelmingly military character over time. This military approach to national security follows the assumption that the principal threat to security comes from other nations. While such an understanding was suitable a few decades ago health pandemics, climate change, technological changes etc. are challenging this notion today. This submission aims to identify the gaps in traditional understandings of national security and proposes redefining the concept. 

This piece is divided into three parts- Part I looks at the traditional military approach to “National security”. Part II analyses the need to update this traditional understanding. Part III identifies “Human Security” as a modern and suitable concept of national security.

Photo by MySecuritySign.com. Licensed via CC BY 2.0.

I.         Traditional Military approach to “National Security”

The traditional approach has been to view “National Security” from a military lens i.e. ‘securing the nation from military threat’. The policy measures of nation States and many strategists have followed this understanding.

Weber found a monopoly on violence, allowing to deal with internal or external military threats, as a crucial condition for the State. Similarly, James Baker notes that while no common definition of “national security” exists, the core issues which warrant national security treatment will primarily include nuclear attack, terrorist attacks and conventional attacks. “National Security” is also used to justify “the maintenance of armies, the development of new weapon systems, and the manufacture of armaments”.

In many ways, it can be easily understood how this understanding of National security developed. Wars in 18th and 19th century were generally short. The security strategy in the past was focused mainly on “external military threats”, which consequently required corresponding military responses.  However, in present times, such an understanding is inadequate.

II.                Need to update the definition of National Security

 i)  Nature of threats is changing

Today, for most nations, the threat of military aggression has reduced considerably. Instead, nations have to face “environmental pollution, depletion of ozone, [global] warming, and migrations of refugees1 among others. Health issues such as the Coronavirus pandemic, changes in technology, or spiralling economy as seen in many third-world countries are other threats to nations. 

One of the greatest enablers of this change is technology. It is difficult to place technological threats within the traditional military approach to national security, yet it is undeniable that technological disruptions present great danger to the security of nations.  The impact of technologies on the international security environment are all-encompassing.2 These include both conventional changes like technological weapons, and non-conventional changes like cyber warfare.

ii)  Non-Military Threats can cause Military Conflict

Another reason for updating the present understanding of “National Security” is that a number of non-traditional threats can lead to military conflict. This makes it imperative for proactive policymakers to treat all such threats as National Security issues.

Scholars have studied resource conflicts, energy security, climate change and insecurity and tied them in with military conflicts. Some have found that “… water resource scarcity can be both the cause and the consequence of armed conflicts.” 3

Proactive policymaking demands recognising such threats before they acquire a military character.

iii)  Conventional understanding of ‘National Security’ is narrow and patriarchal

If National Security means the security of a nation, it is imperative to define ‘nation’ first. While it is difficult to come up with a precise definition of a ‘nation’, it is submitted that any definition, that does not take into account the people is narrow in scope. 

In this context, national security fails to include everyday experiences of a significant population. Further, the current definition is patriarchal and excludes the experiences of women.

J.Tickner finds that the traditional perspectives on security through a military point of view has marginalised or omitted women, which has resulted in a masculine and militaristic definition of National Security.4 Women, on the other hand, have defined security as “absence of violence whether it be military, economic, or sexual.5 National Security, when understood as “absence of violence against people of the nation”, can then be extended to all other disempowered groups.

Similarly, the perception of security that many people of colour have in America, does not align with the dominant definition of national security in America. In the Indian context, crimes against underprivileged groups are not considered a national security threat. Understood in these terms, it is clear that the traditional understanding does not cover the security threats faced by disempowered groups in a nation. A definition that does not take into account is therefore severely lacking in scope, and needs to be updated.

III.          “Human Security”- A Modern understanding of National Security

Put forth in 1994 by the United Nations Development Program, ‘Human Security‘ very simply relates to the security of people. Erstwhile Prime Minister of Japan Obuchi Keizo called Human Security “the keyword to comprehensively seizing all of the menaces that threaten the survival, daily life, and dignity of human beings

In essence, Human Security puts “people first” and recognises that the security of States does not necessarily translate to security of the people in it.  This has been borne out of the events of the 20th century – world wars, multiple genocides, and the realisation that conventional notions of security need to be challenged when serious violations of rights occur.

The advantages of a human security understanding of national security are manifold:

i)   People first approach

The biggest advantage of this concept is that it puts people first in its definition of the ‘nation’. It recognises different forms of violence and threats that individuals face every day.  It brings into focus “structural violence” i.e. “the indirect violence done to individuals when unjust economic and political structures reduce their life expectancy through lack of access to basic material needs.”6

Understanding National Security as “absence of violence for people in a nation”, also allows us to recognise new unconventional threats that arise in the 21st century.

ii)    Radically alters Public notions of Emergency and Urgency

There is normative value in recognising ‘Human Security’ as ‘National Security’. By recognising violence against individuals as national security threats, it sends a message that threats faced by individuals are the most important threats that any nation faces. It legitimises the security issues faced by groups that are not dominant in a nation.

“National Security” issues receive utmost urgency and importance in policy making. As Sachs notes, “Questions of “security” are often given pride of place before other potential policy concerns.”

This leads to a number of questions, why should emergency conditions and sense of urgency be reserved only for military threats? Why should crimes against women be considered any less urgent in a country which reports 87 rapes per day? Why shouldn’t crimes against Scheduled caste and Scheduled tribes be considered as urgent? How do nations issue national or local emergency in times of military conflict, but go on about in a routine manner when extreme gender, social and economic injustices exist?

By equating human security issues with national security threats, it is these questions that we can answer adequately. Crimes against minorities, women and other groups, poverty, lack of access to healthcare and education, and other social, economic and environmental ills that plague nations have become normalised to such an extent that all these issues have become routine. The concept of ‘Human Security’ challenges this status quo.

iii)   Leveraging Public Trust

National Security threats often generate public trust and public consensus swiftly. Public trust is an important part of a democratic system,7 while a lack of public trust is one the biggest obstacles in governance. By recognising “Human Security threats” as “National Security” threats, this public trust can be leveraged to improve governance.

As Lester Brown notes, while responding to a national security threat, “the ‘public good’ is much more easily defined; sacrifice can not only be asked but expected, it is easier to demonstrate that “business as usual” must give way to extraordinary measures.”

If such consensus and unity could be achieved with respect to “Human security”, it would allow governance to take place a lot more efficiently.


The traditional understanding of National Security in terms of military threats to the State is no longer adequate in the 21st century. Today, ‘Human Security’ offers a more holistic understanding with its ‘people first’ approach. It recognises and legitimises the experiences of disempowered groups and challenges conventional notions of security.

Human Security offers multiple advantages as an analytical concept, and holds normative value by contesting the traditional understanding of a nation, urgency and emergency. The definition of Human Security is broad, but that acts as an advantage for it covers a wider range of threats, including the new threats caused by technology and climate.

This redefinition of ‘National Security’ does pose challenges relating to vagueness, increased powers of the executive, conceptual and funding issues, among others, but overall provides a strong base for policymakers to realign their priorities as per the requirements of today.

*Views expressed in the blog are personal and should not be attributed to the institution.


  1. Kalevi J. Holsti, The State, War, and the State of War (1996), Pg. 15.
  2. Group Captain Ajay Lele, “Technology and National Security” Indian Defence Review Issue Vol 24.1 Jan-Mar 2009.
  3. Swain, A., 2015. “Water Wars”. In: International Encyclopaedia of the Social & Behavioural Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 25. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 443–447.
  4. Tickner J. A. (1997b), “Re-visioning Security”, in: International Relations Theory Today, eds. K. Booth, S. Smith, Polity Press Cambridge.
  5. Tickner, J. (1993). “Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security” Political Science Quarterly.
  6. J. Ann Tickner, “Re-visioning Security,” International Relations Theory Today (Ken Booth and Steve Smith, eds., 1994), p. 180.
  7. Beshi, T.D., Kaur, R. “Public Trust in Local Government: Explaining the Role of Good Governance Practices”. Public Organiz Rev 20, 337–350 (2020).