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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Defence imports affects National Security, Foreign Policy: Pallam Raju

16/2/2010-17:34 IST

Following is the text of the inaugural address delivered by the Minister of State for Defence Dr. MM Pallam Raju to the Seminar on ‘The Indian Army : Next Generation Systems, An Evolution’, organised by the PHD Chamber at DefExpo – 2010, here today:-

It is my proud privilege to speak to an august gathering, which has deep understanding and keen insight into Military matters. The history of warfare is as old as the history of the mankind. Man does not have to be prepared for war only for the sake of subjugating the other to his will but he had to be remain prepared to defend his own well being and safety. The requirements of the Nation are no different albeit more complex.

India has no record or intention to unnecessarily project Military Might beyond our frontiers, yet we can ill afford to remain unprepared from external challenges emanating or likely to emanate from far and near to our defined frontiers. The external challenges are going to be complex and multifarious in times to come, given the global geopolitical situation and specially the one in our near neighbourhood. As you are aware that India as a Nation State is progressing and progressing fast economically and in many other sectors, which is going to result in multi-spectral and multi-dimensional challenges from within and outside, for which our Armed forces have to remain ever ready for all eventualities.

History is a testimony that no nation has been able to prevail in a conflict with lower threshold of technology in defence sector. Countries or the Armies with lower technologies would have won a battle here and there, but you will find hardly any example, wherein a higher technology Military power has been overwhelmed by lower technology power in the long run. Though total self reliance in any sector, let alone the Defence Sector may be outside the realm of possibility for any nation and especially for the emerging nations, yet the importance of technological sovereignty and self reliance has no substitute. Self reliance in Defence requirements is one of the important aims of the Ministry of Defence. Heavy preponderance on imports put tremendous strain and uncertainty in defence capabilities, which we can ill afford, apart from high cost of maintenance and equipment exploitation. Further it has got implication on our foreign policy. Moreover dependence on imports of Arms directly affects ‘National Security Capability’. Therefore, it is imperative for overall economic and social development; the Defence Industrial Base (DIB) is developed, expanded and strengthened if I may use the word, on ‘War Footing’.

The benefits of having indigenous and strong DIB are obvious and well known, but achieving the same is a big challenge though well within the realm of possibilities, provided there is an all round synergy of action amongst all stakeholders, unity of thought, will and purpose of the cause. I am sanguine that we all are capable of achieving the same, whatever the challenges may be and much more. Indian Industry has the potential to play key role in this regards.

There are certain factors which restricts, the speedy build up of DIB at the desired pace like limited size of market for defence products, long gestation period for maturing of technology, lack of cutting edge technology with the Industry, multiplicity and complexities of the defence technology coupled with vastness of the spectrum spread of defence equipment and Defence Industrial Base itself. We have to keep in mind and the requirement of keeping the Defence Forces operational ready for any eventuality without waiting for the full indigenisation and integration to take place within the country. Add to the list, various international regimes and regulations denying the cutting edge technologies to the developing nation, the situation becomes quite complex. I assure you, that the Government is committed and alive to the challenges and difficulties faced by the Industry and taking proactive steps to mitigate these difficulties to the extent possible and it is a continuous endeavour.

The Acquisition process has continuously been revamped. Defence Procurement procedure was evolved over a period of time. Based on the experience gained over a period of time in the Defence Procurement, DPP-2006 was issued in July 2006. The revised version was issued in September 2008 and amended in November to accommodate the challenges required to streamline the system and take care of the aspirations of all stakeholders. You will be glad to know that New Categorization of ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ has been introduced from the month of December 2009 onwards. Private industry is being invited for SCAPCC meetings to provide their views.

During this phase, the New Acquisition structures have been created at successive levels of Government like DAC, Defence Procurement Board, Defence Production Board and Defence R&D Board. Recently, a high level committee under Defence Secretary has been set up, for implementation of Rama Rao Committee recommendations, to restructure DRDO. MoD is taking all positive steps to ensure that the Acquisition processes are streamlined and speeded up to meet the requirement of Armed Forces in the desirable time frame, with highest degree of probity and public transparency. At the same time in order to build up sound DIB with the participation of private industry, the provisions of offsets were introduced in 2006 and these have apparently been helpful in more than one way. As on date, 10 offset contracts have been signed worth Rs. 8200 crores wherein 31 private Indian firms have been benefited apart from the OFB/DPSUs. There are 41 offset contact worth more than Rs. 49000 crores in the pipeline at various stages of negotiations which are going to materialise in the next couple of years. This will provide further impetus to the Indian industry. I would like to mention here that Government of India is committed and alive to aspirations of private industry and their problems and you will be glad to know that more than Rs. 4200 crores of contracts out of total offset contracts of worth Rs. 8200 crores signed so far have gone to private Defence Industry.

There are number of high tech systems which the Indian Land Forces require to fight the future battles. There is a requirement to upgrade the Infantry soldiers into a systems i.e. F-INSAS (Future Infantry Soldiers as system) which will include latest Assaults rifles, Head up display helmets, bullet proof jackets, Boot Anti Mine etc for which the procurement process has already commenced. In the field of Artillery the future calibres of gun will be 155 mm / 52” calibre. The plans are already underway to procure the Towed Ultra Light Howitzer Self Propelled Track & Wheeled and Mounted Gun System. The Rocket System SMERCH and PINAKA has already been introduced into the service.

Arjun and T-90 tanks have been inducted into the service and production within the country as already commenced. The upgradation or older version tanks (T-72) is already underway with the collaboration of Private Industry. ALH (Dhruv) has been introduced in service with latest weapon mounted platform. Similarly procurement of Cheetal helicopters is already underway. Replacement of L-70 guns and ZU 23 guns by new generation Air Defence weapon systems and induction of AKASH Missile Systems has commenced. The upgradation of Base workshops and the CODs is progressing at good pace.

These acquisition processes mentioned above and many more in the pipe line will provide ample opportunity to private defence industry of the country to play a significant role in near future. Government would like the industries to grab the opportunity to make full use of it.

Under this backdrop I urge all of you to synergize your efforts in a concerted manner so that Nation gets what it wants i.e. security at the lowest cost in a transparent manner. Armed Forces gets the best Arms and equipment to discharge their tremendous responsibility without looking behind their shoulders and Industry including the private industry along with the Government delivers these at the lowest cost in most efficient manner. I wish the Industry, all the institutions and associations all the very best. I am sure that we shall continue to do our best and beyond. We shall not let down our man in uniform at any cost, for that the price is too high and none of us will wish that to happen. Once again, I will say Good Luck, good way forward. PK/RAJ

(Source - PIB Release)

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