Modi Gov­ern­ment Com­pletes One Year

The Modi Gov­ern­ment has cer­tainly made a vis­i­ble change in the op­er­a­tional strat­egy on the borders. Field com­man­ders have been given free hand to give a be­fit­ting re­sponse when­ever Pak­istani bor­der troops vi­o­late the ceasefire on the line of con­trol or in

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - The writer is for­mer Chief of the Army Staff.

When the Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance (NDA) came into power in the Cen­tre on May 26, 2014, the gen­eral per­cep­tion and ex­pec­ta­tions in the armed forces were that it will fol­low a proac­tive pol­icy on the ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity front and will be more sym­pa­thetic on the wel­fare is­sues of the armed forces per­son­nel. The ex-ser­vice­men ex­pected that their long-stand­ing de­mand of One Rank One Pen­sion would be met in a few months, if not in weeks.

In a cou­ple of my chance meet­ings with Naren­dra Modi dur­ing his elec­tion cam­paign, I had also re­quested for his at­ten­tion to In­dia’s de­fence in­dus­try in or­der to re­duce the high level of de­pen­dency on im­ported weapons and equip­ment, and on con­struc­tion of War Me­mo­rial in New Delhi. He was prompt to in­clude these items in his agenda.

How do I see the per­for­mance of the Modi Gov­ern­ment on its first an­niver­sary? Have achche din come for the armed forces?

Dur­ing this first year, the gov­ern­ment lost con- sider­able time by first giv­ing tem­po­rary charge of the Min­istry of De­fence to Arun Jait­ley, al­ready bur­dened with Fi­nance and two other min­istries, and then ap­point­ing the present in­cum­bent, Manohar Par­rikar.

The Min­istry of De­fence has a huge range of pol­icy mak­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion re­spon­si­bil­i­ties: em­ploy­ment, up­keep and mod­erni­sa­tion of the armed forces, de­fence re­search and de­vel­op­ment, de­fence ac­qui­si­tions, pro­cure­ment and pro­duc­tion, wel­fare of ex-ser­vice­men, and so on. It has a unique or­gan­i­sa­tion and work cul­ture, quite dif­fer­ent from any other na­tion of the world. Since none of our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have much knowl­edge or ex­pe­ri­ence of mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions, their func­tion­ing and tra­di­tions, both min­is­ters lost con­sid­er­able time in learn­ing the ropes. I feel that De­fence Min­is­ter Par­rikar, who has never been in the Cen­tre ear­lier, is yet to set­tle down while en­gaged in fire­fight­ing on is­sues which get high­lighted in the media ev­ery day. A ma­jor les­son for the po­lit­i­cal par­ties, when in op­po­si­tion, would be to fol­low the Bri­tish ‘shadow cab­i­net’ sys­tem.

Ac­cord­ing to our present DPP, it takes any­thing be­tween 80 to 137 weeks to com­plete pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dure up to plac­ing of or­ders.

The Modi Gov­ern­ment has cer­tainly made a vis­i­ble change in the op­er­a­tional strat­egy on the borders. Field com­man­ders have been given free hand to give a be­fit­ting re­sponse when­ever Pak­istani bor­der troops vi­o­late the ceasefire on the line of con­trol (LoC) or in­ter­na­tional bor­der and try to push in­fil­tra­tors to our side. The Chi­nese trans­gres­sion at Chu­mar and Dem­chok on the line of ac­tual con­trol (LAC) saw a swift and strong re­ac­tion by the Army. It forced the Chi­nese to with­draw. Dur­ing Prime Min­is­ter’s re­cent visit to China, he has also flagged In­dia’s strate­gic and bor­der re­lated se­cu­rity con­cerns with China squarely.

De­fence Min­is­ter Par­rikar, un­like his UPA pre­de­ces­sor who was ex­tremely cau­tious and took no de­ci­sions, ap­pears to be a de­ter­mined and fast de­ci­sion maker. By hold­ing reg­u­lar meet­ings, he 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. These are: (a) lack of bud­getry sup­port. The ‘cap­i­tal bud­get’ in last two fi­nan­cial years has been barely suf­fi­cient to meet the ‘com­mit­ted li­a­bil­i­ties’. Un­less the de­fence bud­get is en­hanced sub­stan­tially, there is hardly any scope to ac­quire new equip­ment. This is also the rea­son why the rais­ing of the Moun­tain Strike Corps for the North­ern front has been stalled. (b) Most of his ef­forts to ex­pe­dite pro­cure­ment is­sues con­tinue to face the bu­reau­cratic sloth for which the De­fence Min­istry is well known. So far, there is no ev­i­dence of any fun­da­men­tal changes made its sys­tems, pro­cesses, work cul­ture in the min­istry and its re­la­tion­ship with the armed forces.

On two core (and ur­gent) is­sues which deeply im­pact mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions, up­keep and their func­tion­ing, the Modi Gov­ern­ment has taken no ac­tion so far. There is no progress 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. There has been no at­tempt to formu- late and ar­tic­u­late a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Strat­egy, which is an es­sen­tial guide for the re­vi­sion of mil­i­tary force lev­els and doc­trines to meet new strate­gic chal­lenges. There is no progress on the cy­ber, aerospace and spe­cial forces com­mands.

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 Pro­ce­dures (DPP), it takes any­thing be­tween 80 to 137 weeks to com­plete pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dure up to plac­ing of or­ders. There is a need to work out a com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy and a holis­tic pol­icy frame­work for this goal. This can­not be done by the Min­istry of De­fence alone. In May 2015, the De­fence Min­is­ter has ap­pointed a com­mit­tee to un­der­take a re­view of the pro­ce­dures and pro­cesses with a view to re­mov­ing the bot­tle­necks and mak­ing the sys­tem more re­spon­sive to the needs of the armed forces. This com­mit­tee is also ex­pected to re­view the mea­sures nec­es­sary to ex­pe­dite ‘Make in In­dia’ re­quire­ment of de­fence equip­ment. In my view, it will not be able to take a holis­tic view on de­fence in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion be­cause there are many other as­pects like land ac­qui­si­tion, en­vi­ron­ment, tax in­cen­tive, etc. in­volved to set up de­fence in­dus­try.

On the other ex-ser­vice­men wel­fare is­sues, the gov­ern­ment has given one pos­i­tive in­di­ca­tion. It has stopped the Di­rec­torate of Ex-Ser­vice­men Wel­fare (DESW) from chal­leng­ing ev­ery de­ci­sion of the Armed Forces Tri­bunals given in favour of the pe­ti­tion­ers in the Supreme Court. But due to in­or­di­nate de­lay on the OROP is­sue and De­fence Min­is­ter’s con­tin­u­a­tion with the much cussed DESW and its at­ti­tude, he has man­aged to alien­ate this clien­tele fur­ther.

Un­der Modi Gov­ern­ment, achche din for the armed forces could be on the hori­zon. These are not in yet.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi ad­dress­ing the of­fi­cers and jawans of the In­dian armed forces at Si­achen base camp

GEN­ERAL (RETD) V.P. MA­LIK

Prime Min­is­ter Modi ad­dresses the of­fi­cers, sol­diers and air war­riors of the In­dian armed forces at Leh;

Min­is­ter for De­fence Manohar Par­rikar in­ter­act­ing with the troops in Ra­jouri sec­tor

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