After the nerve-wracking suspense lasting a few months, finally the ministry of defence (MoD) announced the dates and venue of DefExpo 2018. It will be April in Chennai. So this issue is a special on India’s biggest show on land, naval system and internal security.
Worldwide biennial shows take about two years of planning, marketing and organisation. At the culmination of each show, the dates of the next one (two years hence) are announced. Media partnerships and sponsorships are tied almost immediately so that the Show gets good 18 to 20 months to grow before the opening. This is what Indian shows have been aspiring for, for decades. But year after year, we fumble and stumble through yet another Show promising ourselves that if only there was more time we could have done better. And so, in hope we live. Hopefully, there would be only a few ‘if only’ moments at DefExpo 2018.
A few weeks before DefExpo, MoD uploaded a provisional Defence Production Policy on its website for a wider debate and response from different stake-holders. It is a visionary policy no doubt, and has its heart in the right place. The only trouble is, that is all there is to the policy. It is all intentions and vision. Since none of these are rooted in India’s present reality, the policy does not give a time-specific roadmap for the realisation of this vision. Hence, there is a very good chance that it may not move much beyond the MoD website.
The focus of this DefExpo special issue is on optimising India’s defence-industrial capabilities by overcoming our limitations, building on our strengths and seeking multi-level partnerships with global original equipment manufacturers. It is a truism that no country which imports most of its defence equipment can ever become a truly great power. For far too long, India has been a country with immense potential. Unfortunately, faulty and impractical policy-making has held that potential back.
The April issue, thus, brings together ideas, opinions and suggestions from the users and the suppliers. Put together they hold lessons which need to be heeded. With that hope, brace for the heat!