TRUMP DEAL HAS ONLY ESCALATED THE PROCESS
After the Narendra Modi government came to power, none of the government sector and public sector enterprises is spared. All the sectors are fully opened to the private corporate one, including the Railways, banks, insurance, BPCL and other central public sector enterprises. Even the most strategic sector, defence, also is not spared. The government has not only opened up the defence sector to the private sector, 100 per cent FDI is also permitted in defence production and related activities like Research and Development, etc.
The government stated in Parliament that more than 70 per cent of the defence equipments are imported from aboard and hence the government would take all steps to manufacture defence equipments in the country under the scheme of ‘Make in India’. A lot of fanfare announcements were made that ‘Make in India’ projects like the new Generation Stealth Submarines, Minesweepers and Light Utility Helicopters to Infantry Combat Vehicles, Transport Aircraft and Fighter Jets will be manufactured in the country. All these projects are estimated to cost Rs 3.5 lakh crore, but nothing much has happened on all these announcements.
The government also claims that several measures have been taken to promote indigenous production, revisions in FDI policy, strategic partnership model and decisions to set up two ‘Defence Industrial Corridors’ in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
Even the contract for AK-203 rifles to be manufactured in a joint venture with Russia is also struck. The government is not having a clear vision to build up the Indian defence industry in the government and public sectors. The 218-year-old Indian Ordnance Factories manufacturing all types of equipments, ammunitions, troop comfort items, arms, tanks, etc, is under serious attack due to the government policies by which 275 items manufactured till now in these factories are being privatised.
The government has also included in its 100 days’ agenda to convert the state-owned Ordnance Factories into a public sector enterprise so that in due course of time all these factories can be privatised. The government has also taken a decision to convert the Army Base Workshops which overhaul the defence equipments including imported equipments and give second life to all these equipments without any much expenditure is also under attack and the government is planning to convert these Army Base Workshops into ‘Government-owned Contractor Operated’ model (GOCO). The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is under pressure to hand over the new defence technologies developed till date to the private sector.
Even Defence Public Sector like BEML and HAL are under serious attack. Instead of strengthening these Government and Public Sector Industries, the Government continues to encourage Private Corporates. Recently, it has been reported that Anil Ambani owned Reliance Naval and Engineering Limited (R-Naval) has totally failed in supplying Rs. 2500 crore worth Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (NPOVs). The Company was supposed to supply these Vessels by 2014-2015. This Company is understood to be at the verge of closure. The L&T Company has announced closure of their Defence Factory.
After independence when India was lagging behind in technology the erstwhile socialist countries came forward to transfer technology to our Country to manufacture Defence equipments. Even today the T-72 and T-90 Tanks are manufactured in Avadi with Russian Collaboration. The Modi Government instead of demanding for transfer of technology from US has entered into an agreement with the Trump Government to buy US 24 MH-60 Romeo Helicopters at a cost of 2.6 billion dollars, it will spent another 800 million dollars for buying AH-64E six Apache Helicopters. Defence experts doubts that how far the Romeo Helicopters will give India air superiority over the Chinese in anti-submarine warfare.
It will take more than 2 years time for the US to deliver the Romeo Helicopters. By the time China is expected to induct its advanced Z-20 Choppers in its fleet. Therefore, the acquisition of the Romeo Helicopters will not give India air superiority over the Chinese. Experts even say that the US Romeo is not a new brand Helicopter. It is a 2005 version developed in US.
In his address at the Motera Cricket Stadium, Trump said: “I am pleased to announce that our representatives will sign defence deals worth over three billion dollars to sell absolute finest state of the art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian Armed Forces.” The clever salesman, Trump, has dumped his military hardware to India. The Modi government’s slogan of ‘Make in India’ will remain only as a hollow slogan. For Trump it is a business victory and for India it is ‘Buy from USA’.
The country’s aim of self-reliance in defence is becoming a victim under the Modi regime. The country has learned bitter experience from the Kargil War of 1999, which showed the danger of relying on imported defence equipments. It is an experience of the past whenever the country is in crisis. Even spares are not supplied by the US or any other imperialist country for the equipments, which the country has purchased from them.
Recently, defence minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the performance of the Indian Ordnance Factories and defence public sector. After the review with the senior officials, the defence minister expressed satisfaction at the overall achievements of Ordnance Factories and DPSUs. When this is the fact the government instead of encouraging our government defence industries to increase their competitiveness in the global market, is interested only in encouraging private sectors who are not able to establish themselves in this field and to purchase outdated defence equipments from foreign countries.
The people of the country should insist upon the present government, that the government should strengthen our DRDO, Ordnance Factories and defence PSUs for development of futuristic technologies and to develop new products so that these industries will play a pivotal role in making India a self-reliant country in defence preparedness.