This bumper issue is a special on Aero India 2019, the show where, as always, FORCE is media partner and will bring out daily specials on February 20, 21 and 22.
In 2015, which was his first Aero India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced an ambitious ‘Make in India’ programme with defence manufacturing being at the heart of indigenisation. Over the next few years, Make in India became a buzzword with everyone, Indian as well as global original equipment manufacturers, mouthing it like the magic words ‘Open Sesame’ as if it would open the doors to opportunity quite like the cave that hid unimaginable treasures in the Arab fable, One Thousand and One Nights.
That’s where the facts differ from fiction. In real life, magic words do not work. And so it has been with Make in India — a vision not rooted in reality. After four years, even the most enthusiastic flag-wavers of Make in India concede grudgingly that the clarion call has denigrated into rhetoric without much deliverables. Perhaps, the problem was not in the call. The problem was in its understanding. Make in India simply meant, manufacturing more equipment in country, so that the enlarged manufacturing facilities are able to create more employment. It neither implied transfer and absorption of technology nor self-reliance in defence.
When seen with this limited mandate, Make in India has shown potential. And the FORCE focus in this Aero India special issue is on how best we leverage our capacities and work force to produce more equipment within the country. Obviously, the underlying hope is that over a period of time, sustained manufacturing, despite close hand-holding by global OEMs, may create capabilities and a trained human resource; genuine indigenisation may follow; and gradually we will attain a semblance of self-reliance too. These are achievable goals. Several examples exist that show the way, some of which have been highlighted in this issue.
The other subject that we have focussed upon is the second effort by the Indian Air Force to arrest its dwindling combat strength. While we look the MRCA 2.0 programme and the platforms in the fray, we also have an expert’s opinion how the IAF can optimally manage its limited numbers given the cost and time constraints.
Being an Aero India special, this issue is defence industry led, but despite that we have our regular articles and features pertaining to the Indian armed forces. On that note, enjoy the colours of the spring! It’s a beautiful interlude before the scorching summer streak.