Despite rhetoric's of self-reliance as goal of India's defence production strategy since 1960s, fact is India has become one of the largest importer of defence goods in the world. Recently, a defence ministry's report picked up holes in India's arms procurement process including unreasonable delays in military's modernisation. Major reasons for the inordinate delays as indicated are, lack of accountability, multiple decision heads, duplication of processes, delayed decisions, delayed execution, no real time monitoring, no coordination amongst services, and MoD & no programme project based approach etc.
Some other random thoughts and unsolicited views on recent developments —
No major 'Make in India' defence project has actually kicked off in the last three to four years due to lack of requisite political push and follow-through, bureaucratic bottlenecks and long-winded procedures, commercial and technical squabbles. Fact is, we need foreign and Indian manufacturer to share technology and knowhow for building a defence manufacturing ecosystem in the country to create capacity and infrastructure for the selected defence segments, due to failure of DRDO and DPSUs. However, despite hype programmes under SP Model, the policy is still to roll out even after two years down the line. Although Indian private defence industry is capable of executing orders, however the unfortunate fact is, that while there is an over-concentration of orders with the Public sector, hardly any orders are actually flowing to the private players.
The draft Defence Production Policy 2018, circulated recently, on paper it seems to be an attempts to provide a focussed, structured and significant thrust to development of defence design and production capabilities in the country. Hopefully it will be implemented in letter and spirit and not just a document as its predecessor of 2011.
Defence Budget is inadequate for military modernization, as the Indian military modernization is on the early stage, hence it requires more funds in each financial year. The government should work on other measures to make the funds adequate by working on strategies to maintaining fair number of manpower and indigenization.
Lastly MoD needs to adopt a project management approach for large projects under 'Make in India' that would make a single agency responsible for delays and lapses. Regular updates and monitoring needed to be shared by the defence ministry to avoid these delays. There is a need for full automation of the procurement process.