Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

[op-ed snap] Reforming defence planning in Indiaop-ed snap

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the DPC

Mains level: Need of/expectations from the proposed DPC.


Establishing the defence planning committee (DPC) 

  1. The Union Government is deciding to establish an defence planning committee (DPC) under the national security adviser
  2. The aim is to leverage this cross-governmental body to enhance India’s ability to do some long-term strategizing
  3. Composition of the committee: the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, three service chiefs, the defence, expenditure and foreign secretaries

Other important responsibilities of the DPC

  1. The DPC is being tasked with drafting reports on:
    (a) national security strategy, (b) international defence engagement strategy, (c) road map to build a defence manufacturing ecosystem, (d) strategy to boost defence exports, and (e) priority capability development plans
  2. Four subcommittees are to be created under the DPC to focus on:
    (1) policy and strategy, (2) plans and capability development, (3) defence diplomacy, and (4) the defence manufacturing ecosystem

Need of the DPC

  1. First, the silo-driven approach to defence planning has resulted in the lack of an integrated view
    (Silo mentality is an attitude that is found in some organizations; it occurs when several departments or groups within an organization do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same organization.)
  2. The three services as well as the civilian and defence agencies are often seen to be working at cross purposes
  3. Second, India’s $250-billion military modernization programme is often talked about
  4. But even as India remains keen on acquiring significant weapons platforms, there have been persistent doubts about its ability to harness these resources in service of a long-term strategy
  5. Third, The absence of an Indian “grand strategy” that sets out political objectives for Indian power projection has been a perennial topic of discussion within Indian strategic circles
  6. Fourth, India’s defence reform campaign has existed nearly as long as the current system itself
  7. This drive focuses on extending resource integration and coordination throughout defence policymaking
  8. Moreover, it recommends a state infrastructure able to adequately implement political judgements and to combine state resources to meet these judgements
  9. This is currently missing in India
  10. Recognizing this link between the grand strategy discourse and India’s defence predicament can help develop a better articulation of political judgement to resources

Expectations from the DPC

  1. Effective defence planning and force structuring is a function of an institutional framework that allows for a clear delineation of political goals, efficient mobilization of resources and effective use of these resources for developing instrumentalities of state power
  2. With the formation of the DPC, India seems to have finally acknowledged that a new institutional framework is needed
  3. Hopefully, this will provide an overarching vision for Indian’s defence planning

What should be done?: Other issues

  1. India needs to cut the flab on an urgent basis as over half of the annual defence budget going to meet salary and pension requirements is clearly not sustainable
  2. The priorities of India’s “Make In India” initiative and cumbersome defence procurement process will also have to be brought in sync with each other
  3. India’s status as the world’s largest arms importer hardly does justice to its ambitions to emerge as a defence manufacturing hub
  4. The debate on integration (both among the services headquarters, and between the services and the ministry of defence) also continues unabated and should be concluded

The way forward

  1. The government has made the first move
  2. Ideally, it should have come in the government’s first year so that it would have had time to streamline the planning process by now
  3. Nonetheless, it has now moved and should take the process of defence reforms to their logical conclusion

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