SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

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.

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