From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3-Self reliance in defence manufacturing.
India is one of the largest importers of defence equipment. This should have naturally made India a manufacturing hub of the defence equipment. But this is not the case. This article deals with this issue.
Following China’s stance of open belligerence towards India, making war preparedness a top priority. It is against this backdrop, the Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 was unveiled.
- It aims for domestic output worth ₹1.75 trillion of aerospace and defence goods and services by 2025.
- Of which exports is aimed at ₹35,000 crore.
- It has various strategic initiatives that would aid the indigenous development of modern weaponry from hypersonic missiles and ace sensors to stealth submarines and fly-by-wire fighter jets.
Why India lacks indigenous capacity
- If India’s dependence on foreign suppliers of armaments was not for lack of trying.
- Our Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) exists for this very purpose.
- DRDO scientists claim success in several projects, including the Tejas design.
- But decisions on procurements for our armed forces are made through a complex process—involving service chiefs, technocrats and politicians—that ends up favouring foreign purchases.
- This is this convenient, as off-the-shelf wares are readily available abroad.
- The finer details of defence deals are usually confidential, after all, and the payments huge.
- By one estimate, India was the world’s third largest military spender in 2019, with a bill of over $71 billion, after the US and China.
Issues and Challenges in partnership with private players
- So far, efforts to get our private sector into the act have not fared too well, despite all our schemes to attract them.
- Long-drawn out acquisition processes may partly be to blame for this.
- Companies are apprehensive of investment without an assurance of a ready market.
- But by the time their prototypes are tested and approved for induction by our forces, they risk being outmoded by advances made abroad.
- In the US, spin-offs from defence research have been behind many technological innovations of everyday utility.
- So, the knowledge acquired in defence research has the potential to benefit the other sectors as well.
Consider the question “Being one of the top importers of defence equipment India is well placed to enhance its domestic manufacturing capacity of defence equipment. Yet, India lacks it after repeated attempts to achieve it. Examine the reasons for this and suggest measures to overcome this anomaly.”
If a big push for “made in India” defence systems calls an entire ecosystem of experiments, ideas and technical wizardry into being, it could help our economy leap ahead too.