Achche din... not in yet


One year in a five-year term is short for an as­sess­ment of per­for­mance of any gov­ern­ment, more so one which has be­queathed a legacy of is­sues. The as­sess­ment so far for the Naren­dra Modi Gov­ern­ment which came to power one year ago is a ‘mixed one’, con­sid­er­ing the ex­pec­ta­tions of the peo­ple at large.

As we look back, a num­ber of pol­icy is­sues have been ini­ti­ated and that the work is in progress. In this is­sue, we have top for­mer mil­i­tary of­fi­cials analysing the per­for­mance. Gen­eral V.P. Ma­lik (Retd) cred­its the present De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar of be­ing a ‘de­ter­mined and fast de­ci­sion maker’. We must re­mem­ber that Parikkar who was the Goa Chief Min­is­ter was drafted into the Union Cab­i­net much later as a ‘se­lect pick’ of Modi. Con­trast Modi’s and Parikkar’s de­ci­sion mak­ing to that of Man­mo­han Singh and A.K. Antony, the present two in­cum­bents have shown con­sid­er­able un­der­stand­ing of needs of the armed forces and have taken pro­gres­sive steps.

Gen­eral Ma­lik has noted that Parikkar by hold­ing reg­u­lar meet­ings has got the ac­qui­si­tion and pro­cure­ment ma­chin­ery mov­ing to make up the ac­cu­mu­lated de­fi­cien­cies of weapons and equip­ment. The De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil chaired by him has ac­corded ‘Ac­cep­tance of Ne­ces­sity’ for pro­cure­ment projects worth over ` 1,00,000 crore. But he is faced with two ma­jor ob­sta­cles – lack of bud­getary sup­port and the bu­reau­cratic red tape. What then are needed are rad­i­cal changes in the sys­tems, pro­cesses, work cul­ture in the De­fence Min­istry and that is a seem­ingly tall or­der.

The Modi Gov­ern­ment has not taken any ac­tion on the Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee re­port whose im­ple­men­ta­tion is ex­pected to im­prove civil-mil­i­tary re­la­tions within the Min­istry, en­able more co­he­sive de­ci­sion mak­ing and pro­mote in­ter-ser­vice in­te­gra­tion and joint­man­ship.

On the de­fence in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion front, there has been much talk and in­duce­ment to per­suade for­eign orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers to bring the re­quired tech­nol­ogy and es­tab­lish man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner­ship in In­dia. The FDI limit has been in­creased from 26 to 49 per cent, but there is hardly any ac­tion on the ground. In­dia is 142nd in the ‘Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness’ in­dex. Ac­cord­ing to our present De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure (DPP), it takes any­thing be­tween 80 and 137 weeks to com­plete pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dure up to plac­ing of or­ders. There is need to step on the gas.

In another anal­y­sis, Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd) has pointed out that the pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dures and the method­ol­ogy of in­duc­tion of new weapons and other sys­tems are flawed and re­quire rev­o­lu­tion­ary changes. What are the chal­lenges ahead and what must be our ca­pa­bil­i­ties to en­gage in fu­ture threats and chal­lenges need re­con­sid­er­a­tion and restruc­tur­ing. All of it should be in light of the likely avail­abil­ity of de­fence bud­gets in the fu­ture which cur­rently are not even suf­fi­cient even to make up the voids and main­tain the cur­rent force lev­els let alone mod­ernising the force.

Air Mar­shal B.K. Pandey (Retd) has pointed out to the in­or­di­nate de­lay in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the OROP (One Rank, One Pen­sion) scheme which was a part of the pre-poll com­mit­ment by Naren­dra Modi. The Prime Min­is­ter this week an­nounced that it would be im­ple­mented soon. Achche din for the ex-ser­vice­men, to be­gin with!

Happy read­ing!

Jayant Baran­wal

Pub­lisher & Editor-in-Chief

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