For the moment, India’s massive retaliatory doctrine is silent about the type of retaliation that it will undertake. Although most analysts have suggested that Indian targeting would be counter-value in nature, some have indicated a possibility that target set would be more counter-force than counter-value.
While proportionate retaliation appears to be a rational general deterrent posture, important questions need to be asked about its wartime applicability. Threshold recognition and target selection will continue to be challenges in its wartime applicability. Further, a credible strategy of escalation control and war termination need to be conceptualized to ensure that there is minimum damage to the Indian homeland. Without such an articulation, massive retaliation appears to be a strategy better suited to the defense of India with tangible deterrent benefits as well.
Nishant Rajeev is an independent commentator on foreign policy and national security based in New Delhi. His commentaries have appeared in The Diplomat, Indian Defence Review and Pragati. He has previously worked as policy analyst and consultant at a public affairs firm in New Delhi.