DEFENCE IN JEOPARDY

Alive - - Editorial -

In the fag-end of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi's BJP rule, plans and schemes are an­nounced that could solve many of the ex­ist­ing prob­lems the coun­try faces. Giv­ing farm­ers 1½ times the ex­penses they in­cur in the case of crop fail­ure, have a health in­sur­ance scheme that gives Rs. 5 lakh to some 50 crore fam­i­lies for car­ing the mem­bers who fall ill, are very es­sen­tial schemes. How­ever, it has to be seen how many will be ben­e­fit­ted by these schemes dur­ing this gov­ern­ment's time.

Such a plan is for­mu­lated by the Gov­ern­ment to ren­o­vate the coun­try's defence struc­ture,that no doubt needs ur­gent at­ten­tion. Ex-gen­er­als and Defence an­a­lysts have been warn­ing that the forces are in need of very es­sen­tial weapons and equip­ments that a mod­ern army, navy and air force need. Though the over­con­fi­dent Army Chief Bipin Rawat boasts that In­dia is ready to fight war on 2½ fronts, his own gen­er­als have been doubt­ing his wis­dom. It was re­ported that the sol­dier's ba­sic weapon, the ri­fle, is out­dated and many thou­sands have to be im­ported, not to talk of the 5.5 how­itzer that have to re­place the Bo­fors guns en­tan­gled in cor­rup­tion in high places. The im­port of fighter planes the Air Force badly needs is still in the process of pro­cure­ment. As for the Navy which has the least role in a war, the ser­vice seems to be con­tend­ing with our own pro­duc­tion re­sources in In­dia's well-de­vel­oped dock­yards.

The Ser­vices and the Defence Min­istry are say­ing the bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion for Defence is not suf­fi­cient to meet the re­quire­ments. How­ever, no vi­able amount will be suf­fi­cient to a sys­tem that is not will­ing to cut down the ob­so­lute and make the best use of the avail­able. For ex­am­ple, the Army could do away its own postal ser­vice, sev­eral in­sti­tu­tions where the ed­u­ca­tion of men and of­fi­cers could be in the civil col­leges and have Sup­ply, Ord­nance and Sig­nal and Elec­tri­cal and Me­chan­i­cal corps com­mon to all ser­vices. But the top of­fi­cers of the de­part­ments are not ready to sur­ren­der their in­di­vid­ual em­pire for the sake of na­tional econ­omy and con­ve­nience.

The gov­ern­ment has come out with a plan to ren­o­vate the Defence by con­sti­tut­ing a high level com­mit­tee con­sist­ing of na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor, ser­vice chiefs and sec­re­taries of three most im­por­tant min­istries. As it is, these of­fi­cers are al­ready too busy in their own jobs to take up ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. And the com­mit­tee's work will creep so that no tan­gi­ble re­sult would come out of it in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture.

If the Gov­ern­ment is re­ally se­ri­ous about solv­ing the prob­lems con­fronting Defence, what it should do is to have a work­study team of young IIM grad­u­ates who could work in­de­pen­dently and un­bi­ased.

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