In the past two years, the Naren­dra Modi-led gov­ern­ment has been try­ing to change the course of the na­tion, hav­ing come to power on the plank of de­vel­op­ment. There have been ma­jor an­nounce­ments in these two years, but June 2016 will re­main a wa­ter­shed month for the NDA Gov­ern­ment as in one mas­ter­stroke it has an­nounced 100 per cent for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment (FDI) in de­fence and aviation and higher per­cent­age in sev­eral other sec­tors. This has been hailed as the most rad­i­cal and trans­for­ma­tional re­forms that In­dian lib­eral econ­omy has seen in many years. The lib­er­al­i­sa­tion in FDI in de­fence and aviation will en­able for­eign com­pa­nies to in­vest in In­dia and also to bring in mod­ern tech­nolo­gies for our use which is the need of the hour for In­dia.

Till now, the FDI regime per­mit­ted 49 per cent FDI par­tic­i­pa­tion in the eq­uity of a com­pany un­der au­to­matic route. For­eign in­vest­ment beyond 49 per cent has now been per­mit­ted through gov­ern­ment ap­proval route, in cases re­sult­ing in ac­cess to mod­ern tech­nol­ogy in the coun­try or for other rea­sons to be recorded. The con­di­tion of ac­cess to state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy in the coun­try has been done away with. FDI limit for de­fence sec­tor has also been made ap­pli­ca­ble to man­u­fac­tur­ing of small arms and am­mu­ni­tions cov­ered un­der the Arms Act of 1959.

Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd) in his view­point has called this as a bold de­ci­sion that would cer­tainly give the re­quired fil­lip to ‘Make in In­dia’ as well as boost de­fence ex­ports. What needs to be en­sured is that while the De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure (DPP) 2016 is im­ple­mented in true let­ter and spirit, cases of FDI in de­fence ‘through the gov­ern­ment’ route are also pro­cessed speed­ily – cut­ting out the red tape in both cases. The In­dian mil­i­tary’s cur­rent equip­ment hold­ings are 50 per cent ob­so­lete and mul­ti­ple crit­i­cal voids ex­ist be­cause of sus­tained ne­glect over the past decade plus. The pro­por­tion of state-of-the-art equip­ment also needs to grow from its cur­rent level of 15 per cent to at least 30 per cent with the cur­rent cy­cle in­clud­ing ac­qui­si­tions drafted un­der the Long-Term In­te­grated Per­spec­tive Plan, which is ex­pected to in­clude pro­cure­ments worth $100 bil­lion by 2022. A holis­tic ap­proach to equip­ping the mil­i­tary is the need of the hour.

In an­other ar­ti­cle Lt Gen­eral Ka­toch (Retd) dis­cusses In­dia’s bid to en­ter the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group (NSG). He opines that whether NSG mem­bers want to ad­mit Pak­istan into NSG or MTCR mem­bers grant mem­ber­ship to China, China would be acutely aware the con­tin­ued blockad­ing of In­dian mem­ber­ship to NSG may not be in the best in­ter­est of China her­self where In­dia is poised on the very cusp of such mem­ber­ship with to­tal US back­ing.

This month in­deed has been his­toric. His­tory was scripted for the In­dian Air Force (IAF) when three women were for­mally com­mis­sioned as fighter pi­lots. It is seen as the prover­bial ‘feather in the cap’ of the service. The three women pi­lots are Fly­ing Of­fi­cer Bha­vana Kanth, Fly­ing Of­fi­cer Avani Chaturvedi and Fly­ing Of­fi­cer Mo­hana Singh. While we say hats off to these brave young women, it is ac­knowl­edged that the IAF is truly on course as a mod­ern air force for the world to take no­tice. These ar­ti­cles and more in this edi­tion.

Happy read­ing!

Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

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