- India is the second-largest importer of weapons and there is a need for upgradation of armed forces. Defence modernisation and indenisation are the two most required tasks in present scenario.
- In August 2020, as an impetus for the indigenous military sector, the defence ministry announced restrictions on the imports of 101 weapons ranging from assault rifles to transport aircraft.
Need for Indigenisation
- achieving self-reliance and reducing the burden of imports.
- India will emerge as a powerful country.
- India can export various indigenous defence technologies and equipment to the other nations.
- Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO),
- Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs),
- Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and
- private organisations
Indenisation of Defence was started in 1983 when the government sanctioned the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) to develop five missile systems. These were:
- Prithvi (surface-to-surface)
- Akash (surface-to-air)
- Trishul (the naval version of Prithvi)
- Nag (anti-tank)Agni Ballistic missiles
- Since these efforts were not adequate to meet the requirements of the armed forces, then we started focussing on co-development and co-production in partnership with foreign companies such as India and Russia signed an inter-governmental agreement to jointly produce Brahmos supersonic cruise missile.
Initiatives for Indigenisation of Defence
- Defence Procurement Policy: On recommendations of Dhirendra Singh committee, Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 added an additional category Buy (Indian-IDDM) (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured), as most preferred way of defence acquisition.
- Preference to ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ & ‘Make’ categories of acquisition over ‘Buy (Global)’ category, thereby giving preference to Indian industry in procurement
- E-Biz Portal: Process of applying for Industrial License (IL) and Industrial Entrepreneur Memorandum (IEM) has been made completely online on ebiz portal.
- Restriction of annual capacity in the industrial license for defence sector has been removed.
- Outsourcing and Vendor Development Guidelines: for DPSUs (defence public sector undertaking) and OFB (ordnance factory board) to promote participation of private sector, particularly SMEs (small manufacturing enterprises) for defence manufacturing.
- Reforms in Defence PSUs: Ordinance Factory Board has been corporatised for bringing greater agility, accountability and freedom.
- Uniform custom duty: To make a level-playing field for Indian private sector and public sector, all Indian industries (public and private) are subjected to the same kind of excise and custom duty levies.
- FDI policy: composite foreign investment up to 49% is allowed through Government route (FIPB) and beyond 49% with approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on case-to-case basis.
- INS Vikrant: Also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1. First aircraft carrier to be built in India for Navy.
- Project75: In 2017, Indian Navy started submarine programme called Project-75 (India), the “mother of all underwater defence deals” with France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Spain and Japan to build six advanced stealth submarines. Project 75 Submarines INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Vela, S53, S54 and S55 are made by Mazagon Dock Limited and designed by French company DCNS in Mumbai.
- Arjun Tank: a third-generation main battle tank developed by DRDO.
- Kaveri engine: DRDO could not develop its indigenous Kaveri engine, which was to be used in LCA Tejas, due to restricted access to high-end defence technology by countries such as USA, JAPAN etc.
- Dhanush: First indigenous long-range artillery gun also known as the “desi Bofors”.AGNI V: India’s Intercontinental ballistic missile and was developed in 2013. Dhanush, Nirbhaya, Prithvi, Akash missiles have also been developed indigenously.
- Pinaka: was developed by armament Research Development Establishment (Pune).
- BRAHMOS: is a Joint Venture between India and the Russian federation.
- Lack of a forward planning or clear strategic direction.
- Projects such as Arjun Main Battle Tank have proved to be a deadweight for indigenous program. It has been in development since 1974.
- Lack of coordination.Lack of basic infrastructure.Limited access to latest technologies as powerful nations have restricted entry for India (Technology denial regimes from which India was kept away for long). Ex. nuclear submarines.
- Economic slowdown due to covid pandemic is going to affect Indian economy very badly and, in this situation, most private sector companies will not be interested in expansion and production of defence equipment.
- Process of technology development remains opaque
Suggestions for enhancing indigenisation
- Domestic industrial base should be developed and made advanced.
- Categorisation of weapons on two bases: 1) which one should be imported 2) which one should be made locally.
- Upgradation should be started from basic weaponry and protective gears for troops.Software Industry and technologies like Artificial intelligence and cyber security should be harnessed to develop and manufacture the indigenously.
- Inhouse design capability should be improved amongst three services, Navy has progressed well on path of indigenisation primarily because of in-house design capability, Naval Design Bureau.
- Robust supply chain is critical for a defence manufacturer looking to optimize costs
- For Make in India to succeed, it should require an injection of good strategy with a joint focus across the three-armed services. Clear Strategy and clear vision will result in boost to Make in India and Modernisation of forces.
- Ensure better coordination and smooth and fast functioning, Government had created Chief of Defence Staff post.