7 PM Editorial |ACHIEVING SELF RELIANCE IN DEFENSE| 23rd May 2020

 

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ACHIEVING SELF RELIANCE IN DEFENSE

CONTEXT: As part of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, government of India has introduced policy changes to achieve self reliance in the defense equipment production and procurement while addressing strategic and national security concerns. In addition, New Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP), 2020 are under formulation and Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is tasked with promoting indigenous equipment in the armed forces.

MEASURES ANNOUNCED:
  1. Make in Indiafor Self-Reliance in Defence Production:
    1. Notify a list of weapons/platforms for ban on import with year wise timelines
    2. Indigenisation of imported spares
    3. Separate budget provisioning for domestic capital procurement
    4. Coexistence of indigenous R&D with import of cutting-edge military technologies to obviate near-term defence vulnerabilities
  2. Corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board(OFB)and eventually will be listed on the stock market to Improve autonomy, accountability and efficiency in Ordnance Supplies
  3. FDI limit in defense manufacturing under automatic route will be raised from 49% to 74%
  4. Time-bound defence procurement processand faster decision making will be ushered in by :
    1. Setting up of a Project Management Unit (PMU) to support contract management
    2. Realistic setting of General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs) of weapons/platforms
    3. Overhauling Trial and Testing procedures
IMPORTANCE:
  1. Economic:
    1. Indigenous procurement will help reduce the huge defence import bill. India was the largest importer in the past decade accounting for about 12% of global arms imports.
    2. Negative list and enhanced FDI limits, encourage our private defence manufacturers and joint ventures with foreign manufacturers, both new and existing
    3. Indigenisation leads to defense manufacturing which promotes economic growth and employment
    4. Defense exports will bring in forex
  2. Technology: Negative list of imports and realistic quality requirements will reduce foreign competition. This removes hurdles for Indian platforms and subsystems such as Akash and Nag, the Light Combat Aircraft and the Light Combat Helicopter, artillery guns, radars, electronic warfare systems and armoured vehicles.
  3. National security:
    1. Domestic production reduces vulnerabilities during crises by reducing dependence on imported spares, ammunition and weapons. Kargil war highlighted this
    2. Project Management Unit (PMU) and overhauled Trial and Testing procedures will reduce delays in procurement(Rs.4 trillion procurements of 200 proposals in early stages since 5 years) and hence enhancing defense preparedness.
    3. Better integration of OFB into the larger defence manufacturing ecosystem by bringing autonomy, accountability and efficiency
  4. Geo Strategic:
    1. Great powers have defense self reliance at their core. For India’s aspirations of Asian century, SAGAR, defense self reliance is vital
    2. Becoming a pole in multipolar world
GOING AHEAD:
  1. Plan for the ammunition and spares; repair, maintenance and overhaul facilities and, at the next level, the upgrade of weapons platforms to be eventually manufactured in India so that we are not driven to seek urgent replenishments from abroad during crises
  2. CDS could reexamine existing procurement proposals from a tri-service angle, to avoid redundancy of capacities across the services and prioritise those with indigenous research and development
  3. Long-term integrated perspective plan of the requirements of the armed forces giving future picture to industry
  4. Proposed DPP, 2020 to consider:
    1. Cost evaluation has to evolve from mechanical application of the L1 (lowest financial bid) principle to prioritising indigenous content
    2. Definition of indigenisation itself needs to privilege technology over value or volume
    3. strategic partnerships between Indian and foreign companies
  5. Transparent export policy
  6. Level playing field between DRDO and private sector. DRDO’s conflict of interest as the government’s sole adviser, developer and evaluator of technologies have to be addressed
RELATED REVISION POINTS:
  1. CDS
  2. Defense Procurement policy
  3. Defense Production policy

Source – The Hindu

MAINS QUESTION:
  1. Discuss the proposals for defense sector self reliance as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and their importance? (250 words)
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