blurred vision

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Mar 2018 11:23:38

Nakshatra Shravan 15H 03M

Moon Makar upto 28H 10M (Rajandekar Panchang)
Paksha Falgun Krishna Tithi Dvadashi 15H 42M
Muslim Jamadilakhar 25th Hijree 1439

EVERYBODY will agree with the statement by Defence Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman that India’s defence and ordnance units in public sector need to be vitalised and made more dynamic to meet the national need. Yet, those who understand the detail and reality in Indian defence production also realise that the under-utilisation of potential of defence production sector cannot be attributed to systemic flaws but should be traced back to absence of a clear vision on the part of the Government. Most unfortunately, India’s defence production sector could not utilise its potential to the fullest only because the Government did not have a clear idea of what to expect from it and how to help the crucial sector to build suitable capabilities to achieve the national goal.

Though a lot of lip service was offered about defence preparedness and indigenous production, the Government did precious little to further the stated national goal of self-reliance in ordnance production. Even as it launched a massive ordnance industry in the country at the dawn of Independence, the Government also kept relying heavily on foreign supplies, thanks to a self-created impression that Indian defence production sector was incapable of fulfilling national needs. This notion afflicted the Government’s vision right from the start, thus incapacitating the defence industry.

Subsequently, again the Government started promoting private sector industry to meet ordnance needs under an imagined opinion that the public sector would not be able to meet the challenge. That India needed private sector participation in fulfilling national defence needs, is perfectly all right. Yet, that did not mean that public sector was incapable of doing the job. The Government did not realise that entry of private sector could be allowed only after putting the full potential of public sector to actual use. It also did not realise that private sector is fundamentally more aggressive to fulfill its goals. So, when the Government started allowing private sector in defence production in a big way, it started shifting a lot of work from public sector units. Most unfortunately, the Government did not feel it imperative to push the public sector to its fullest limits of production potential, and then invite private sector to join.

Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement that there is a need to revitalise public sector defence industry has its own importance. But the process can be set in motion only when there is a clear vision on the Government’s part on how to push public sector to its fullest potential in defence production. There is no wisdom in denying the presence of private sector in defence production. Yet, there also is a need to ensure that the public sector units are pushed the hardest to their final frontier of capabilities. The Government, therefore, will have to shed its tendency to allow the growth of private sector at the cost of public sector.

India’s defence needs are going to be endless, given the geopolitical conditions prevailing in this part of the world. International realpolitik is generally conducted on the military strength of the nation. Given the ever-expanding role India is playing in global arena, it is imperative to have a very strong and indigenous defence production industry. But if the Government’s vision is blurred, then it cannot achieve the goal of revitalisation of public sector defence industry. It is in this zone that the Government needs to clarify its own goals and the road ahead. Political tall talk will not serve any purpose in this field where action must speak louder than words. The need is to draw up a plan to stretch the public sector defence industry to its fullest limits through hard-driving management of the facilities spread all over the country. Minus this, everything will remain the same, frozen!