“Service Before Self”, the motto of Indian Army spells it all out. Indian Army is the pride of our country and has time and again proved its significance in maintaining the status quo in and outside India. Whether it is aggression from the outside or internal disturbances, nothing has been able to deter the commitment of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Army, however, had not been given the kind of backing it would have liked from the previous governments at the Centre. The Congress led UPA I and II regimes had sadly turned a blind eye to the demands of the Indian Army. From the procurement of arms and ammunitions to bulletproof jackets, Congress had declined to give heed to the warnings of Army officials regarding the unpreparedness of the forces and their complaints of being ill equipped. There were no encouragements given to the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and other institutions as well to meet the growing demands of the Armed Forces. From the BOFORS scandal of 1980-90’s to the Agusta Westland helicopter scam of 2013, Congress’s greed has been apparent in every ‘deal’ it wants to undertake for the improvement of the Indian Armed Forces. The hopes of the Indian Army officials were therefore rekindled when the Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government came at the centre in 2014. The Rs 150 billion deal finalised recently is one of the many steps taken by Indian government to boost the morale of the Indian Armed Forces
The Indian Army and other security forces since 2014 have never had the chance to look back for support since 2014. The Narendra Modi led BJP government has always backed the security forces ever since it came to power. The BJP government also took a serious look at the dwindling supply of arms and ammunitions to the Armed Forces. Many deals were undertaken in 2016-17, ranging from fighters and tanks, infantry and warships to ammunitions spares and other reserves. Nonetheless, there are certain limitations with regard to the final procurement taking place, the import of arms from other countries means that there is a considerable gap between the deal taking place and the shipments arriving.
Keeping this in mind the PM Modi led central government has finalised a Rs 150 billion defence project in India. These projects will ensure that a wide range of ammunition for important weapons and tanks can be produced on Indian soil. This defence project initiated under the Make in India scheme will ensure that the long delays in procurement can be overcome and the army’s emptying stockpile can be filled as quickly as possible. The Indian Army and Defence Ministry will together monitor the implementation of this defence project to be carried out by 11 private firms. This project will serve the important goal of creating inventory of all the major weapons in order to lessen India’s reliance on foreign bodies for its arms and ammunition needs.
A senior government official while talking to the PTI spoke about the importance of this deal, “The overall cost of the defence project has been pegged at Rs 150 billion and we have set a specific target for the next 10 years in terms of the volume of ammunition to be produced,”. “The indigenisation of the ammunition project will be biggest such programme in decades,” said the official.
This could be considered the first serious attempt by any government to address the issues which have been raised by the Armed Forces since decades. The Indian government had earlier given the authority out the Army to directly procure ammunitions and spares for 10 types of weapons and equipment. A deal to procure 1.86 lakh bulletproof vests at the cost of approximately Rs 639 Crores had already been finalised by the PM Modi government. This Rs 150 billion deal will help the Indian Army to become self-dependent and maintain the stockpile needed to fight for months on end. Apart from the Rs 150 billion defence project finalised this month the government has already finalised the infantry modernisation deal worth Rs 400 billion which includes the purchase of light machine guns, battle carbines and assault rifles. The Indian Army will be tension-free after the Rs 400 billion and Rs 150 billion deals become reality, and so will the average Indian citizen who trusts the Armed Forces with his personal security.