Q) “Indigenous defence manufacturing of India is fraught with several challenges. Discuss. Also suggest steps required to overcome them.”
In order to promote self-reliance in defence production, the government has announced several measures under AtmaNirbhar Abhiyan. Though these steps are in the right direction, there are long-overdue reforms to make India truly self-reliant in defence manufacturing.
Challenges in Indigenous defence manufacturing:
- Most of the government defence acquisition proposals from the past five years are in beginning stages
- There has been a Poor design capability in critical technologies
- The investment in R&D is inadequate
- The inability to manufacture major subsystems and components hamper the indigenous manufacturing.
- The creation of a manufacturing base is capital and technology-intensive and has a long gestation period.
- Stringent labour laws and lack of skills affects the development process further.
- Overlapping jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Industrial Promotion impair India’s capability of defence manufacturing.
Measures to overcome challenges in defence manufacturing indigenously:
- To avoid delays and speed up the defence procurement process the chief of defence staff could examine the defence acquisitions from a tri-service angle.
- It is imperative that when India imports any weapon systems, there should be a plan for the ammunition and spares to be eventually manufactured in India so that we are not driven to seek urgent replenishments from abroad during crises.
- To promote forward-looking strategic partnerships between Indian and foreign companies, with a view to achieving indigenization over a period of time for even sophisticated platforms the next Defence Procurement Procedure should incorporate guidelines related to it.
- The role of DRDO should be revised, in order to give private industry a level playing field for developing defence technologies.
Self-reliance in defence manufacturing is a crucial component of effective defence capability and to maintain national sovereignty and achieve military superiority. The attainment of this will ensure strategic independence, cost-effective defence equipment and may lead to saving on defence import bill, which can subsequently finance the physical and social infrastructure.