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.
Jayant Baranwal Publisher & Editor-in-Chief