India is the 9th largest defence spender and one of the world's largest importer of defence equipment, importing practically all types of weapons and systems, fighter aircraft, armoured vehicles, radars, missiles, naval vessels, almost up to 70% of its defence requirement. The oft repeated policy to seek substantive self-reliance in the design, development and production in defence equipment has been a hollow slogan/ gimmicks the leaders make without any follow up.
We as a self respecting nation need to deliberate, why is our combat equipment profile and state is not contemporary? Why is it that we are still dependent on imports, despite large industrial base and a huge captive defence market? Why we have not been able to enhance domestic production capabilities? On the contrary the indigenous capability gap has been decreasing, hence a cause of concern, emphasising the attention by the new Government on priority. The paradoxical situation caused by lack of vision i.e, protecting an inefficient segment on the pretext of security has harmed the national economy.
This issue of Defence ProAc Biz news coincides with taking over of new Govt. which, we pray will be a game changer for the nation. The cover story on “Way ahead for defence industrial capability” and article on investment and indigenous contents stipulations for Indian defence industry enumerates some of the recommendations. As a matter of fact, for creating defence industrial capability, there is a need to change the rules of engagement in defence production, which requires rationalisations of restrictive, protective, superfluous checks and balances. The supporting ecosystem where the industry including the public sector is competitive provides sustainable input to economy. The time has come, when domestic production of defence equipment and machinery needs to be seriously incentivized by the government in a time bound manner.
Hopefully, the new Govt. will make some conscious efforts for a paradigm shift from the 'Buyer-Seller' relationship to that of a healthy 'Partnership' between the industry, the Armed Forces, the DPSUs and the DRDO-perhaps a consortium approach.