By Colonel Awadhesh kumar, Special Forces
Even after 70 years of independence, India as a Country is still not self sufficient in manufacturing all its weapons and equipment for defence. India is the largest importer of defence equipment which is not only a huge drain on our resources but even acts as an impediment to our foreign policy. There may be some justification for importing certain things which are in the domain of cutting edge technology. However there is certainly no justification when even basics weaponry needs to be imported because own production is of extremely shoddy quality or simply in sufficient to meet our needs.
The above import dependence has been in spite of having 41 Ordinance Factories and 52 Defence Research Laboratories functioning since 1960’s or even before and also hosts of top heavy establishments catering to Quality Control and Quality Assurance. After 1962, there was rapid growth of MAKE IN INDIA defence weapons and equipment. It was a very welcome step. However soon red tape, political intervention, nepotism, bureaucratic slothness, massive corruption and pure CHALTA-HAI attitude took over. Various establishments which came into existence to help the Armed Forces, began to behave as if the Defence Forces existed to Support them instead. Thus the Tail started to Wag the Dog itself.
Now under the present government, things have started to change. There is going to be more and more accountability. Also the responsibility of defence manufacturing is to be shared both by the Public Sector and the Private Sector. There is going to be Cooperation, Collaboration and also competition. Thus the NITI AAYOG has recommended the establishment of PPP Model in Defence Production. Corrupt and inefficient employees will be weeded out as there can be no place for such people, especially in defence manufacturing establishments. Surplus staff will be identified and redeployed and those redundant will be given a Golden Handshake as such establishments are not meant for generating and guaranteeing employment to the needy.
The above actions to streamline defence manufacturing has certainly not been liked by those who have been running the show till date. Members of the All-India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) thus have become very unhappy and are vociferously attacking the Modi government for handing over manufacturing of over 200 defence related items to the private sector. The Federation is accusing that the Government in the name of the joint venture is simply handing over Public assets to Private Corporates. The government is also being accused of declaring more than 30000 civilian employees of various factories under the department of Defence Production as surplus wherein as per the Federation the government should be generating employment.
AIDEF represents the employees of all the factories manufacturing equipment and Ordinance for the Armed Forces, employees of DRDO and civilian employees of various other establishments under the Ministry of Defence. While all these years many of the third rate products of these factories ( though some of these factories have been producing very high quality goods ) have not jeopardized National Security but now when accountability is being enforced then the General AIDEF, Shri C is accusing the Central Government. As per him the government policies are against the defence industry as the decision to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence production is not going to modernise it but is going to render over four lakh employees jobless. He also thinks that there is going to be a threat to national security as private players will dictate terms to the government and armed forces.
The Federation seems to be shocked also with the ongoing reorganisation in the Defence Forces itself. They are not liking the fact that the Director General Quality Assurance (DGQA) which inspects the quality of equipment has been made redundant along with Army Postal Service and the 39 military farms. Therefore prior to the decision becoming effective from April 1, 2018, the AIDEF has decided to organise a massive protest in New Delhi in February and are also threatening
to go on an indefinite hunger strike.
Well, it’s time now to review and reorganise the TAIL supporting the Armed Forces as parts of various Departments of Ministry if Defence. The Command and Control of all these supporting systems too requires a major change so that they become totally accountable and the sole function of their existence must to enhance the operational capability of our Armed Forces to the maximum possible.