India is in for change. The recent election results are indicative of the end of Dynasties, Nepotism, Caste and Religion based politics. The politics as family enterprise, alliances to grab power, sans responsibilities and status quo mindset have been dumped. The mandate is for governance and nation capability building, so that every Indian can feel proud of. However the recent report from SIPRI indicates, India is the world's largest arms importing country with about 13% share in the global arms import during 2012-16. No Indian would be happy with the label of world's largest importer of arms and being dependent on others for its defence capabilities. The nation wants the executive to articulate an over-arching national narrative on defence production, in context of national interest. Modernisation of the Armed Forces had been stagnating in the past due to various reasons like inadequacy of funds, rigid procurement procedures, frequent changes in qualitative requirements and status quo mindset that pervades through the civil and military bureaucracy.
The present government had set the pace for achieving the self-reliance agenda through “Make in India” in Defence Production. There is no doubt in last two years or so the DAC met regularly and accorded AON and signed for acquisitions, with the required speed and pace. The abrupt move of Defence Minister in mid way, has cast doubt on follow up on procurement reform, making up of equipment deficiencies, strategic partnership model, need to strengthen the indigenous defence industry etc.
Let us first admit that Ministry of Defence is not a add on ministry and the person heading it, has to understand nuances of security issues including capabilities. There is a need to take necessary measures to synergise combat capabilities of our defence services through indigenous production. Both indigenous public and private defence industry has to be treated as national assets and treated at par. Defence manufacturing besides adds to the military's operational capability, or galvanize private defence industry is increasingly becoming a major economic activity in creating jobs and technological capability. The above will need focus on developing core technologies through wide-net partnerships within the defence industrial base and foreign OEMs.
The Make in India is a vision which would take time to fructify and a sincere beginning has been made in defence production. The need is to keep the policy thrust so as to telescope the time lines in achieving self reliance.