The best available recourse to keep the defence sector healthy is to source most of our requirement within the country so that procurement outlays under both the Revenue and Capital heads flow within the country, recommends Brigadier S K Chatterji (retd).
IMAGE: India’s indigenously produced LCA, the Tejas, flying at the induction ceremony of the first Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft squadron at the Thanjavur airbase. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo
COVID-19 has had an unambiguous impact on the Indian defence forces. The establishment cannot afford to ignore it.
Under the circumstances — whereas Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das stated on May 22 that GDP growth in FY21 is expected to remain in ‘negative‘ territory — with millions of job losses and disruptions in business activities — there is no room to hike military expenditure.
The best available recourse to keep the sector healthy is to source most of our requirement within the country so that procurement outlays under both the Revenue and Capital heads flow within the country.
Side by side, the necessity is to channelise a major portion of this expenditure to the private sector, thereby boosting their capabilities and also our indigenisation, simultaneously.
The government has already taken a few policy decisions and amended procurement procedures to favour indigenisation in acquisition, maintenance and repair modalities, issuance of list of products where only Indian vendors can pitch in, and the like.
It signals a change in our approach to defence procurement.
Put together, they open up the market to Indian manufacturers and service providers and would channelise a substantial amount of the defence spending to Indian industry.
The immediate advantage that the covid crisis has provided to the defence industry was manufacturing a host of equipment that were urgently required.
Several defence PSUs are manufacturing ventilators, sanitisers, PPEs, coveralls and masks.
Some of the products made by the private industries include full face shield masks, N99 masks, bio-suits, personnel sanitisation enclosures, portable backpack sanitisers, PPEs, trolley mounted large area sanitisers, ventilators, solenoid and proportional valve for ventilators, differential pressure sensor, etc.
These are not essentially military equipment, but have some bearing on the stressed financial straits of the Indian defence industry.
Turning the focus on defence products, the government had already…