Nations ensure their success, strength and sovereignty by the protection it provides to its people and the only sector which assures it is the Defence Sector. This sector is considered to be one of the major arenas of discussion at times of protection and safety. Nations are judged powerful on the basis of their capability to protect their citizens and at the same time increase their dominancy in the world. Defence is one such sector which needs to stand firm throughout whether at times of national emergencies or during the normal course managed by highly dedicated team of officials who can shoulder this important responsibility patiently, so that even a tinge of wind cannot blow away the sector.
India’s defence sector is the major spending sector of Indian economy but yet lacks in the self sufficiency to hold the number one spot. Therefore the sector still remains an evolving one and not an evolved one. No doubt India has got a very strong hold in terms of its defence but due to its improper use of ‘carrot and stick’ policy the great power potential of India lies in tatters. It is often found that the slavish use of ‘carrot’ without any equilibrium with the ‘stick’ at times threatens the country as a whole.
India has been involved in wars with Pakistan and China. While it won the wars in 1965, 1971 and 1999, it faced a defeat in 1962 against China. India has therefore learnt many lessons with these wars which emphasize the need to build a strong defense force. The 21st century defense sector however, is an altogether different. With growing threats of terrorism, cyber attacks and hostility in many parts of the world, defense sector needs to be ahead of these threats. India also shares a vast border with many countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. The ever volatile situations in Kashmir and in parts of the North East are also a source of threat to peace and security. Apart from these, India also faces many homegrown terror elements ranging from Naxalites, Maoists and other terror networks like Indian Mujahideen. Many of these groups are also supported by foreign hostile neighbours. All these threats and rising incidences of skirmishes on the border with China(Doklam incident) make it necessary that India be ready to tackle them. Also, as India advances economically, it is equally vulnerable to cyber threats like hacking, denial of service and ransomwares which can slowdown as well potentially lockdown many vital services.
India needs to invest in human capital, research and technology. Apart from DRDO, CSIR and IITs, India needs good research facilities and institutions that can contribute in generating state of the art research. The various public sector undertakings also have been lagging in modernizing both equipment and building sophisticated weapons on their own. Thus India is the largest arms importer, spending annually more than 3.6 billion dollars, more than combined imports of China and Pakistan. Except for missilery like Brahmos and communication systems, the contribution of defense PSUs has not been able to build self reliance in defense production. The answer therefore lies in reform, private sector entry and consequentially, competitiveness. The new defense procurement policy (DPP-2016) is a step in right direction which is aligned with the Make In India objective stressing on indigenization and manufacturing locally. It is said that as a thumb rule, it takes 7 to 10 years from realization to procurement of defence equipments. This has to be brought down by increasing coordination and reducing red tapism as well as promoting local manufacturing. Budget-2018 has talked about Defense manufacturing corridors and recently the government has announced one to be started in Uttar Pradesh. There is a need to develop local manufacturing and maintenance abilities on an urgent basis so that India doesn’t have to rely on either used weaponry or equipment or get outdated equipments. For example, Russia will charge 125 crore for repairing the damaged nuclear submarine INS chakra. Developing local manufacturing can help India save its import bills and spend on welfare projects too.
Governments most appreciated project ‘Make in India’ has come with a new concept of ‘Design in India’ where emphasis has always been laid to give a boost to the country’s defence sector. If we take a closer look on our Prime Minister’s visit to various nations, we find that he has always laid emphasis on strengthening the defence of the country. With the spread of radicalism in Gulf and South Asia, India always aimed at measures to combat radicalism and counter terrorist threats. India signed one of the biggest weapon deals in the defence history with Israel amounting to $2 dollar that includes an advanced defence system of medium-range surface- to-air missile launchers and communication technology also indicates its efforts to suffice itself in the defence sector.
Use of drones, cyberspace, artificial intelligence are the future of defense sector. Many countries like Isreal, UK, US and even China have been spending heavily in these sectors. India too must catch up and promote collaboration between the forces, the industry and the academia so that not only India has defensive but offensive capabilities as well. Today, wars are not as common as the use of deterrence and India has to develop the balancing act of using it to its advantage. We all have the potential to comply with the advancements in the technology but the only thing that we need to do is to be in sync with the technology. It is not something impossible, the only thing that is required here is proactive management of the current and potential resources and a supportive push from financial regulatory standpoint and we achieve self sufficiency in this sector and emerge globally powerful.
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