Military & Aerospace

Defence Acquisition Council Takes the Right Decision
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 24 May , 2017

The Centre recently finalized the long-awaited ‘Strategic Partnership Policy’ to enhance the role of India’s private sector in the production of cutting edge weapon systems and armaments in collaboration with major arms manufacturers of the world. To start with, the manufacturing process in India will be through joint ventures.

The imports were three times greater than Pakistan and China, the two countries against which India is pitted militarily. Incidentally, these imports account for 65% of our requirements.

Ever since the new government took over the reins of power in India three years back, the manufacture of heavy armaments indigenously has been a constant refrain to ensure that ‘ Make in India’, does not remain merely a slogan on paper.

With India having fought five full-scale wars with its belligerent neighbors ( four with Pakistan and one against China) ever since independence, and the relationship with both countries showing no signs of improvement, it is only natural for India to keep its powder dry at all times.

During the past 27 years India has been a victim of proxy war that Pakistan has thrust on it in Jammu and Kashmir State. This has created an environment of mistrust between the two nuclear neighbors.

As far as China is concerned, the Line of Actual Control continues to be a source of discord between the two nations. To this long-pending border conflict have been added the recent events like China persistently opposing India’s entry into NSG, and vetoing of India’s proposal in the United Nations to declare Azhar Masood, the Chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan- based Jihadi Group, as a proclaimed terrorist.

India, on its part, refused to be part of the Chinese initiative of organizing an international conference in Beijing on One Belt One Road (OBOR) – a Chinese economic/ strategic show piece. India also refused to stop Dalai Lama from visiting Arunachal Pradesh despite strong Chinese protests. Such incidents have, of late, further undermined the already sour relations between the two countries. Under the circumstances, India can ill afford to let down its guard.

The SIPRI report says, “A major reason for this high level of imports is that the Indian arms industry has so far largely failed to reach a required competition ladder”.

To keep pace with the latest technological developments in armaments, India is compelled to import its major requirements from abroad; mainly from the U.S, Russia, France and Israel. As per the recent report published by the global think tank, Stockholm Global Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), between 2011 and 2015, India remained the top arms importer of the world, accounting for 14 % of the world arms import.

The imports were three times greater than Pakistan and China, the two countries against which India is pitted militarily. Incidentally, these imports account for 65% of our requirements.

Despite huge amounts of money spent on the running of public sector Defence Research and Development Organization ( DRDO), the fact is that its huge network of 50 labs, five defence PSU’s, four ship yards and 41 factories under the Ordnance Factory Board, have largely failed to deliver over a long period of time. Thus, compelling India to spend a whopping 250 billion $ in arms imports between 2012 and 2016.

The SIPRI report says, “A major reason for this high level of imports is that the Indian arms industry has so far largely failed to reach a required competition ladder”. Seimen Wiezman, researcher at SIPRI further adds, “They spend a lot of time and also money trying to develop weapons in India and things go hopelessly wrong”.

If ‘Make in India’ had to be made a reality, the production of armaments indigenously has to be its show-piece. Besides, for a country that spends huge foreign exchange in importing its energy needs and peoples’ obsession, gold, getting the private sector involved in the manufacture of big ticket arms was the right thing to do. Four major segments, namely fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, tanks (and infantry combat vehicles) have been opened up to private players. The companies to be selected for the manufacture of these items should have had a yearly turnover of 4000 crores for the past three years with a capital asset base of Rs 2000 crores.

It is hoped that with this important decision, a new beginning has been made and long – delayed decisions will now be taken to strengthen our armed forces.

The government, after the meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by the Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, said, “The policy is aimed at developing the defence industrial ecosystem.

Over the years, Defence has been facing severe challenges, both in terms of developing indigenous capacities as also in restructuring the whole defence organization. Besides, our defence outlay in terms of budgeting over the years has not kept pace with our strategic requirements and threat perceptions.

Our meager allocation of defence budget this year (1.67 % of our GDP) is far too short of our needs and does not compare favorably with what our adversaries have been spending year after year. It is hoped that with this important decision, a new beginning has been made and long – delayed decisions will now be taken to strengthen our armed forces.

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