great plan

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 May 2018 12:09:08

IT IS heartening to know that the Indian Army has finalised a mega plan of spending Rs. 15,000 crore to produce critical ammunition indigenously instead of depending on imports that never arrive in time. By putting this plan in action, the Army proposes also to answer the problem of dwindling ammunition stockpile in the country’s ordnance stores. This decision, of course taken at the highest levels of military and political establishments, certainly brings cheer to the nation whose people have regarded their Armed Forces in highest esteem. The very thought that the Army is going to build its own and indigenously-produced ammunition stockpile, will make the common people very happy.

This should have happened much earlier. This should have happened, say, fifty years ago when the country was beginning to face the harsh reality of international politics in which the given word is rarely followed -- at least in terms of ordnance merchandise. In the mid 1960s, when the country had faced a humiliating defeat from China, and then posted a laudable victory in 1965 against Pakistan, the reality of international politics started hitting Indian Armed Forces that faced inordinate delays in ordnance supplies from other nations. In those days -- or even earlier -- the Indian leadership had seen the problem in advance and had started laying stress on building an ordnance industry in a big way. Yet, those efforts suffered on two counts -- one, financial resources; and two, willingness of the leadership to divert resources to such an important cause. Unfortunately, the Indian leadership could not muster enough readiness to starve other sectors of the economy for a while and divert resources to the ordnance sector. That made all the negative difference.

Fortunately, things have changed now. The Government is now willing to go full distance in building the nation’s own ordnance industry to higher level and keep the Armed Forces in full battle-readiness all the time. The difference, thus, has come when the political leadership agreed fully with the military leadership to put in motion such an ambitious plan worth Rs. 15,000 crore. This plan will certainly make a very positive difference to the nation’s defence-preparedness as well as to the popular confidence in the Armed Forces.

The military leadership desires to build an ammunition stockpile for all critical weapons for a 30-day war, as the reports have us believe. This is a critical info, particularly against the background of news items that the country’s ammunition may not last even for ten days if a full-scale war happens to take place. If those pieces of information had even an iota of truth, then it was a matter to be worried about. Of course, the Government had denied those reports and stated that everything was all right. No matter those reports and their denials, the Army’s decision to push the Rs. 15,000 crore mega plan to prepare an ammunition stockpile for a 30-day war brings cheer to the nation.

We, as a nation, cannot escape the reality that building such a massive stockpile of critical ammunition is going to test the nation’s existing ordnance industry in which now the public and private sectors have become almost equal partners. Despite this positive change in the past few years, the reality is that Indian ordnance industry has to go a great distance to become fully self-reliant, thanks to a few grey areas. The first is, of course, funding. The second grey area is defence research aimed at achieving more and better production of critical merchandises at lesser cost. There are other factors as well, such as uncompromising political support to the project, no matter who controls the Government. For the time being at least, on this count, there appears no cause of worry. Everything considered, the Army has given the nation some good news on defence front.