FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
With a decisive mandate under his belt, the 15th Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has begun his tenure on a sound note, ‘fast-tracking’ the development agenda which the nation has been eagerly looking forward to. The policyparalysis, indecisiveness and low-investor confidence during the previous government had slowed down the economy considerably. On taking office, the first thing Modi has done is shift gears, sending a positive signal to the world that he means business.
The fact that he invited Heads of States of SAARC nations for the oath-taking ceremony of his government is seen as a masterstroke. With sour relations existing in the immediate neighbourhood, the meetings that followed with Heads of States had key takeaways in terms of building/strengthening relations. In his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Modi is said to have told him in unequivocal terms that ‘voices will not be heard, if the sound of bombs continue’. It was an ice-breaking meeting and the next steps are that the Foreign Secretaries of the two governments will meet and pursue the development plank. It is hoped that Pakistan will see sense in not encouraging cross-border terrorism, if it is sincere of building its economy. Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch has dwelt at length on Modi’s initiatives with SAARC countries.
One of the biggest announcements expected is 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence production. Presently, the FDI limit is 26 per cent—and 49 per cent in exceptional cases—but the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are seeking more such that they could effect transfer of advanced technologies.
We are enthused by the Modi-led government, hence have dedicated this issue as Special with the theme ‘New Government, New Governance’. To give a perspective of what is going to unfold in the new dispensation, SP’s M.A.I. has a series of articles by experts talking about India’s foreign policy, defence modernisation, internal security, etc, and also what the OEMs are hoping from the government.
Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey has pointed out that undue delay in defence procurements has resulted in serious erosion in the operational capability of the Indian armed forces raising serious doubts about their capability to fight a war even on a single front, leave alone fighting a two-front war. In another article Lt General (Retd) V.K. Kapoor hopes that the new government shows firmness to resolve the long-pending reforms in the Ministry of Defence. Reforms suggested by the Kargil Review Committee or later the Naresh Chandra Committee have been similarly rejected on frivolous grounds and it is unfortunate that the political hierarchy has been accepting this negative approach.
As regards OEMs, they all seem to be gung-ho as can be seen from the interview with the Airbus India President Yves Guillaume who expects some of the deals to be cleared at the earliest. Rockwell Collins has stated that it is committed to India as demonstrated by its continued expansion, adding jobs, transferring technology and contributing to the local economy. Similarly, Rolls-Royce, MBDA, Saab and Navantia have expressed hope that there would policy initiatives which would catapult the defence production base in India.
We wish the new government and Prime Minister Modi all the success and are confident that they will focus on the urgent National Security matters that concerns us all.