Man­date for the new De­fence Min­is­ter


Manohar Gopalkr­ishna Prabhu Par­rikar, who took charge as the new De­fence Min­is­ter of In­dia, has oner­ous tasks ahead of him con­sid­er­ing that the armed forces are on a mod­erni­sa­tion mode and a de­fence in­dus­trial base is in the process of tak­ing off. Tak­ing over as the 36th De­fence Min­is­ter of In­dia, Par­rikar has as­sured to main­tain the fast pace of de­fence ac­qui­si­tions, while en­sur­ing trans­parency at ev­ery stage. While the re­cent pro­cure­ment dis­as­ters are go­ing to act as re­minders, it is hoped that the pace of de­fence ac­qui­si­tions will not be af­fected, on the con­trary it will be ac­cel­er­ated.

Now that the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has set a clear agenda of ‘Make in In­dia’ for the in­dus­try, de­fence in­dus­try in­cluded, Par­rikar has to make this hap­pen in de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing at an ac­cel­er­ated pace. Once this ecosys­tem falls in place, it has enor­mous po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate large-scale em­ploy­ment and con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. The Min­is­ter will have to re­vi­talise the In­dian de­fence and aero­space in­dus­try in the pub­lic sec­tor, im­pose higher ac­count­abil­ity and make them de­liver, while the pri­vate sec­tor must be pro­vided a level play­ing field to com­pete shoul­der-to-shoul­der with the pub­lic sec­tor un­der­tak­ings (PSUs).

It is heart­en­ing to note that the gov­ern­ment is seen to be proac­tive, de­ter­mined and above all will­ing to lis­ten to the in­dus­try/ ex­perts. Tak­ing a cue from the lead­er­ship, Parikkar has de­cided to or­der an ex­pert com­mit­tee to evolve fresh pol­icy changes on two spe­cific pro­cesses that In­dia is all too fa­mil­iar with: the business of de­fence company agents (de­scribed as ev­ery­thing from ‘mid­dle­men’ to ‘rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ to ‘lob­by­ists’), and the act of black­list­ing com­pa­nies un­der a cloud of cor­rup­tion charges.

One of the fore­most as­pects that the De­fence Min­is­ter has to look at is how to make Modi’s vi­sion of ‘Make in In­dia’ come true. Re­lax­ation of for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in de­fence beyond 49 per cent for state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy is a wel­come step, but con­cur­rently the De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure (DPP) needs to be fur­ther sim­pli­fied to at­tract in­vestors, both In­dian and over­seas. Such a pol­icy will have two-pronged ben­e­fits, de­fence preparedness of the coun­try, while the de­fence in­dus­trial base will pro­pel eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Se­cu­rity of the coun­try is core and that does not just mean safe­guard­ing the bor­ders, but also within con­sid­er­ing how there have been ter­ror strikes. Not­with­stand­ing the Prime Min­is­ter’s global out­reach pro­gramme, start­ing with the im­me­di­ate neigh­bour­hood, and his mantra of de­vel­op­ment, the na­tion needs to be se­cured.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s visit to Myan­mar was yet another hall­mark con­vert­ing In­dia’s ‘Look East’ pol­icy to that of ‘Act East’. Myan­mar is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant in strate­gic terms with its lo­ca­tion in the arch of Bay of Ben­gal and the en­hanced geopo­lit­i­cal fo­cus on the In­dian Ocean re­gion (IOR) in this 21st cen­tury.

In this is­sue, we have a re­port by Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd) on China’s new strat­egy for in­for­ma­tion war­fare. The Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping wants China to es­tab­lish a new mil­i­tary doc­trine, in­sti­tu­tions, equip­ment sys­tems, strate­gies and tac­tics and man­age­ment modes for in­for­ma­tion war­fare. Can In­dia stay be­hind? It can­not and it can lever­age its stu­pen­dous IT ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Happy read­ing!

Jayant Baranwal Pub­lisher & Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

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