India is on its way to fulfilling the much talked about dream of PM Modi – ‘Make in India, Make for the world’ in the defence sector. The ISRO, DRDO and Ordnance Factory Boards have made a huge contribution to the strength and capabilities of our armed forces. Once the private sector, with much greater resources, lives up to the standards and expectations set by these organisations, India will have its own Boeings and Lockheed Martins which will be profitable as well as ethical.
Private Player Chipping In
India for long had maintained a strategic distance from the private players in the defence sector. The fear was of profiteering by using sub-standard products which may put the lives of soldiers guarding our defences in danger. Gladly all the clouds of distrust now seem to have dispersed as the Indian Army is putting trust in private players in the defence sector. With the hand holding of the champion organisation like DRDO, the same organisations can perform better than they do in their current fields.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) MM Naravane along with the Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Manoj Pande inducted several indigenous defence vehicles developed by the private players, TATA Advanced System Limited (TASL) and Bharat Forge. The Army Chief commended the efforts of both these organisations for strengthening the Indian Army. According to the official statement, “The COAS appreciated TATA and Bharat Forge for their commitment in strengthening the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” initiative of the Government of India and continued engagement with the Indian Army for past decades. The induction of these indigenously developed systems by TASL and Bharat Forge would greatly enhance the operational capabilities of the Indian Army in future conflicts.”
General MM Naravane #COAS inducted the Quick Reaction Fighting Vehicle, Infantry Protected Mobility Vehicle, Ultra Long Range Observation System indigenously developed by @tataadvanced & Multi Role Mine Protected Armoured Vehicle by @BharatForgeLtd into the #IndianArmy. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/Kzr9NFyOcc
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) April 12, 2022
The MD and CEO of TASL, Sukaran Singh, while talking to TOI, said “Under the emergency procurement policy, we have designed, developed and manufactured nine IPMV vehicles for the Army alone. This is a special armoured protected vehicle and can carry infantry soldiers in all kinds of terrains, including in high-altitude regions of the Northern and Northern Eastern sectors. We have carried out extensive testing in all these regions and met the operational requirements of the force. We may deliver more such vehicles in the future.”
Major Positives of Private Sector driven Defence
The Army already had plans of inducting modern armoured vehicles for the faster and safe movement of armed personnel but the conflict with China had forced it to run this on an emergency basis. The Army had put forth orders to private players like TASL, Bharat Forge, Mahindra, etc. These inductions of state-of-the-art modern vehicles will be the beginning of the golden chapter for Private players in the Defence sector.
This will also have a multiplier effect on the economic side. The defence import eats a major part of our economic pie and other than energy import, it is one of the major reasons for our Current Account Deficit. Moreover, the dependency on foreign nations in a strategic sector like defence can anytime become a stranglehold as in Geopolitics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies.
Technology transfer is also a major bone of contention in this sector and the host nation hardly wants to do it. The Centre has taken on the duty of Indigenisation of Indian Defence and is rock-solidly backing these organisations and private players. It has been constantly updating the arms embargo list to give more opportunities to our industries. The private players with the handholding of DRDO and the centre’s push can indigenously develop modern high-tech weaponry. If we get the requisite defence technology then per unit cost will be much lesser as we can mass produce it not just for ourselves but for exports. The recent export of Brahmos to the Philippines is just a baby step in this long path of progress. This complementary success in defence sectors will surely make India retain its rightful place in the world order through both hard and soft power.