quality first

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 Apr 2018 11:21:35

THE assertion by Defence Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman that the Government cannot compel the Armed Forces to buy local weapons, makes a very profound statement in favour of quality first and quality last in terms of national defence and its tools. Even as she appreciated the various weapons -- made globally or locally -- at the Defence Expo at Chennai, she made it also known to everybody that there would be no compromise on quality and the Armed Forces were free to make their choices of weapons and equipment as per their strict standards and their actual needs. She also insisted that the Government would not compel the Forces to buy weapons from local manufacturers if they do not conform to norms and standards. This approach needs to be lauded because it spells the clear thinking of the Government on the issue. Obviously, the Governments would not interfere in acquisition programme no matter the ‘Make In India’ campaign.

The message the Defence Minister has given to Indian manufacturers -- or even the overseas ones -- is that quality is the watchword and nothing else matters. In fact, this should have always been the approach. Unfortunately, there were patches of time in the past quarter of a century when the Armed Forces were compelled to buy locally on many occasions and had to suffer from loss of quality in defence equipment. It is clear that the Government does not want to allow any such experience to be repeated.
India’s defence production industry has gone through major and positive changes in the past some years. When the Government realised that quality was the issue crying for attention, it led the process of change from the front. As one of the first steps, it introduced what it called ‘quality language’, by way of which it taught the Forces and ordnance industry a common language of quality. It started spelling out accurate definitions of quality and standards. When the Forces and ordnance industry started talking a common language and started insisting upon attainment of those standards, things improved a lot. That approach was helpful in raising the quantum of local contribution to locally manufactured defence merchandise.
Despite this positive development achieved candidly over time, the Government continued with the policy of quality first and quality last as far as defence acquisitions were concerned. Ms. Sitharaman highlighted exactly that aspect at her press conference. However, it must be understood correctly that by saying that, the Defence Minister did not mean to discourage local contribution. All she stressed was quality and nothing else.

Thus, Ms. Sitharaman clarified to the ordnance industry that ‘Make In India’ campaign could never mean compromise in quality of goods and services and design and development of weapons and weapons-systems and tools. She also stressed that the Armed Forces were free to make their own choices based on their actual needs and the specific quality standards. It must be stated that India’s ordnance industry is looking at a great hike in its own contribution to utilitarian defence production. The whole lingo has changed over time. So has changed the quality culture for the better. Despite this, the exacting standards needed for weapons and ordnance merchandise have only risen in time, which continue to remain a major challenge for the local manufacturers. This highlight at the Defence Expo by none other than the Defence Minister makes a very clear policy statement, which the world can never miss to notice. As a newspaper of strong nationalist view, we appreciate this no-nonsense insistence on quality of defence production. We believe, this policy will stand the nation in good stead.