Cutting edge technology and private players are key to achieving self-sufficiency in defence production
Lt Gen. Rameshwar Yadav (retd)
The common factor amongst the big powers through ages has been the defining edge in defence technology and its employment in tactical battlefield. From Babur to the European conquest, it was defence technology which made the difference between victory and defeat in the battlefield. And it is technology which has given the edge to western countries over the rest of the world. They have invested in technologies as a key to their strategic objectives and they continue to do so even today.
Indian security environment is deteriorating by the day, especially with the Chinese footprints across Pakistani geographical spread as part of their China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This is the biggest political investment that China has made in recent times and would go all out to ensure its success. Therefore, India faces an enhanced military threat from China and Pakistan combined. Accordingly, India needs to make up the shortages of military hardware and build up affiliated structural and organisational strengths at the earliest.
In order to build up the requisite strategic deterrence, India has no option but to go in for import of the state-of-the-art weapon and equipment to ensure optimal operational capabilities. While there was a policy paralysis on this issue for quite some time, there is now a move forward for essential procurements. The on-going procurement of Rafale, Apache and Kamov helicopters, additional C-130J transport aircraft, S-400 air defence missile system, nuclear-powered submarines, night enablement and battlefield transparency equipment, assault rifles and ammunition of various varieties etc., are part of the government’s initiative to keep the armed forces in fine fettle.
There is certainly a need to start the process of indigenisation of the defence production to reduce our dependence on foreign countries. It would require cutting-edge technologies and involvement of the private sector in the defence production. Neither does India have the requisite defence technologies nor is its private industry optimally involved so far due to deep-set security concerns. Moreover, lack of strategic culture and concomitant politico-military synergies have not taken national security with the kind of seriousness it deserves. In consequence, persisting failures to come up with cutting-edge technologies and high-quality products has resulted in strategic vulnerabilities in the absence of accountability of institutions and individuals entrusted with providing with structural strength to the armed forces.
The government is trying to reorient the focus of defence production policy by encouraging private enterprise who have tremendous talent amply proved in the non-military domain, making Indian economy to graduate from regional to international standards. In this industrial matrix, the public sector would continue to provide core industrial inputs alongside selected private industries as competitors, thereby enhance the quantity as well as the quality content of the product and services.
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