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Make in India

Defence Procurement Policy 2016 puts money where the mouth is

Maj. Gen. Mrinal Suman (retd) Maj. Gen. Mrinal Suman (retd)

India’s Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) undergoes biennial reviews. The current version (DPP-2013) came into effect on 1 June 2013. Revision was due last year but has been overly delayed. The said delay is reportedly due to defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s insistence that the revised DPP must streamline the decision-making process and facilitate expeditious procurements by removing all impedimentary provisions. Equally importantly, he wants the procedure to be a catalyst in furthering the development of the indigenous defence industry.

After prolonged deliberations, an expert committee under Dhirendra Singh was constituted by the ministry of defence (MoD) on 1 May 2015. The Committee was tasked to evolve a policy framework to facilitate ‘Make in India’ in defence manufacturing and align the policy evolved with DPP-2016. It was also asked to recommend steps to simplify/rationalise various aspects of defence procurement. The Committee submitted its report to the defence minister on 23 July 2015.

By far the most far-reaching recommendation of the Committee pertains to the creation of additional capacity in the private sector in respect of platforms of strategic importance through close partnership with select companies. The primary focus of strategic partners would be to support sustainability and incremental improvements in capability of platforms through technology insertions over their lifetimes.

Light Combat Aircraft Tejas
Light Combat Aircraft Tejas

After receiving feedback from numerous stakeholders, MoD put up the draft of DPP-2016 to the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the overarching decision-making body under the defence minister on 11 January 2016. Although the draft was not complete in all respects — it did not include chapters on selection of strategic partners, employment of middlemen and blacklisting of firms — it gave enough indications of containing many progressive measures.

Unlike the past revision, DPP-2016 promises to be a path-breaking effort and mark a radical shift in the fundamental approach of the government. It is for the first time that the underlying philosophy of defence procurements is being revisited, and quite surprisingly, most observers have failed to comprehend its import. They have been focusing on procedural changes which are of far lesser substance.

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