Will the lion roar as it should?

SP's MAI - - EDITOR’S DESK - SP’s M.A.I., Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

As we head to the 11th edi­tion of Aero In­dia in Bengaluru, the high­point of the Naren­dra Modi Gov­ern­ment — ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive — res­onates loud and clear. It is a highly laud­able ini­tia­tive con­sid­er­ing that we have been an im­port-de­pen­dent na­tion as far as aerospace and de­fence sys­tems go. And we have the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the world’s top im­porter of weapons, ac­count­ing for nearly 14 per cent of global im­ports, the high­est for any coun­try.

In this is­sue of the fo­cus is on where we are head­ing as a coun­try when it comes to Modi’s pet sub­ject — ‘Make in In­dia’. Air Mar­shal B.K. Pandey (Retd) opines that the highly mech­a­nised lion, rep­re­sent­ing the spirit of the ‘Make in In­dia’ cam­paign, will be­gin to roar, only when there is a ma­jor over­haul of the bu­reau­cratic es­tab­lish­ment and the gov­ern­ment ma­chin­ery.

Air Mar­shal Pandey talks about in­tent and ca­pa­bil­ity and states that while there has been some progress in the cam­paign, there is a lot more ground to be cov­ered to make it eas­ier for the orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers (OEMs) and In­dian en­ti­ties to en­gage in col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts in In­dia. Ease of do­ing busi­ness is one as­pect which keeps crop­ping up now and then as hur­dles re­main with a bu­reau­cracy which is steeped in ‘bu­reau­cratic ways’.

Sub­stan­ti­at­ing the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach is the Sec­re­tary of De­fence Pro­duc­tion, Ashok Ku­mar Gupta who in an in­ter­view men­tions that the fo­cus is on achiev­ing the ‘Make in In­dia’ vi­sion by ac­cord­ing pri­or­ity to ‘Buy (In­dian-IDDM)’ and ‘Buy (In­dian)’ cat­e­gories. The gov­ern­ment has sim­pli­fied pro­vi­sions for fund­ing of 90 per cent of de­vel­op­ment cost by the gov­ern­ment to In­dian in­dus­try and ear­mark­ing projects not ex­ceed­ing de­vel­op­ment cost of ` 10 crore (gov­ern­ment funded) and ` 3 crore (in­dus­try funded) for the mi­cro, small and medium en­ter­prises (MSMEs). This would help cre­ate an ecosys­tem in de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing, key to ful­fill­ing the vi­sion of ‘Make in In­dia’.

A whole lot is hap­pen­ing around this time. The Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley an­nounced ` 2,74,114 crore for de­fence, from which the Min­istry of De­fence ex­cludes ` 11,724 crore al­lo­cated for De­fence (Civil Es­ti­mates). In an anal­y­sis Lax­man Ku­mar Be­hera states that with a share of 1.56 per cent in the es­ti­mated gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) of 2017-18, the de­fence bud­get is the low­est since 1956-57. And among the three Ser­vices, Air Force is the only ser­vice whose mod­erni­sa­tion bud­get has in­creased whereas both Army and Navy have wit­nessed a de­cline in their re­spec­tive bud­gets. Be­hera is con­cerned about the trend of un­der­util­i­sa­tion of the de­fence bud­get, de­spite the nu­mer­ous im­prove­ments in pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dures that have hap­pened in the re­cent past. In 2016-17, only 12 per cent of the to­tal mod­erni­sa­tion bud­get of ` 70,000 crore is avail­able for sign­ing new schemes.

Echo­ing sim­i­lar an­guish is Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd) who states that it is dis­tress­ing that ` 35,000 crore was un­spent in 201617, whether this is on ac­count of red tape or other rea­sons, it is crim­i­nal con­sid­er­ing the poor state of equip­ping the armed forces with cut­ting-edge equip­ments. It is hoped that there would be course cor­rec­tion.

Please visit SP Guide Publi­ca­tions at Hall AB (AB3.46) dur­ing

Aero In­dia at Bengaluru from Fe­bru­ary 14-18, 2017.

Happy read­ing!

Jayant Baran­wal

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