Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, May this year, had declared that the government would focus on expediting the pace of defence acquisitions for modernisation of the armed forces. The UPA Government had been proclaiming for years that Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) had been Ôsimpli by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), even the indigenous private sector. Public sector is favoured despite their poor general perfor state of our defence-industrial complex, the need of the hour is to make the Indian defence sector unambiguously lucrative for investors. But will this happen with the 49 per cent hike announced by the Defence Minister? We have our doubts. So where does that leave our defence capability and pre
In this context we should remember that the letter written by General V.K. Singh (Retd), the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to the Prime Minister on March 12, 2012, highlighted that the mission reliability of mechanised vehicles was poor, the artillery was obsolete and inadequate, air defence was antiquated, armour was unreliable due to regular barrel accidents caused by mismatch between indigenous barrels and - corps helicopters needed urgent replacements, and holdings of all types of missiles, anti-tank and specialised ammunition was critically low. Thus pointing to the lack future wars. We have seen no induction taking place so far.
The voids in equipment and modern war together with the lack of modernisation of the equipment in the Army has resulted in a capability gap vis- -vis our likely adversaries and this is becoming more pronounced day by day. Following this it seems that the Defence Ministry during the UPA rule had track acquisitions and the list of essentials was prepared and sent. - proved but in fact has worsened in the past two years or so. On the one hand, nothing has come so far, while on the other hand, missiles and specialised ammunition holdings which have a shelf life, have dipped further. And to top it all, a new raising of a strike corps for the mountains has commenced but the question being asked is Ð where is the equipment?
The UPA Government had in principle sanctioned the Twelfth Five Year Defence Plan (2012-17) as a result of the severe criticism for the Army it was a cosmetic paper exercise as even the Eleventh Plan procurements had not materialised. Thus considering the Eleventh and Twelfth Plans need to be implemented. The defence budget for 2013-14 grew by 5 per cent over the previous year, with defence capital acquisitions grow averaging more than 5 per cent since February, and the rupee depreciating by 14 per cent against the dollar over the same period, that modest budget increase was actually a budget decrease for defence. As far as the budget for FY 2014-15 is concerned the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on July 10, 2014, announced an additional ` 5,000 crore, taking the amount allocated to the Indian defence to ` 2,29,000 crore from ` 2,24,000 crore announced in the interim budget presented by the UPA-II Government.
Analysis of the current budget shows that the services have received no increase in capital bud in the interim budget. The entire amount has gone to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) with ` 1,000 crore for development of rail network in border areas. The capital outlay announced in the interim budget will mostly get consumed in the existing liabilities. This means that this year there is no likelihood of induction of any big-ticket items in any of the Services.
On July 19, 2014, the Ministry of Defence cleared procurement proposals worth ` 21,000 crore for the IAF and the Indian Navy but once again invisible! In light of the above situation, the media reports that the outgoing Army Chief General Bikram Singh, in the capital, is reported to have praised both the previous and the present government for the full cooperation received by the Army was received with skepticism by the serving as well as the retired community. While courtesies by outgoing chiefs are customary, they must not amount to unnec - served. The inactions and indecisiveness of the previous (UPA) Government and lack of urgency in procuring urgently needed weapons and munitions for the Army in the past 10 years of UPA rule is evidence enough of their neglect resulting in the shrinking capabilities of the Indian Army.
We hope that the present NDA promises of meeting the external and internal security challenges facing the country and modernise its armed forces and its internal security forces to meet these challenges. The current direction and stance of the NDA Government seems encouraging but now they need to walk the talk.