Make In India : Can Reverse Defence Import/Indigenous Ratio In Five Years...

Make In India : Can Reverse Defence Import/Indigenous Ratio In Five Years …..An Anecdote By An Infantry Colonel

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By Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces

An old article first published in JAGRUK BHARAT.COM in Nov 15 and just in two days had over 35000 clicks. You all too may like to read it.

The clarion call by our PM Modi to MAKE IN INDIA has resonance with those Indian heart and mind who dream for the country. It will certainly be vital for our industrial output, employment and savings in the outflow of foreign exchange and thus raising the National Wealth.

In line with the above MAKE IN INDIA of PM Modi’s initiative, now our Raksha Mantri, Shri Manohar Parrikar has asserted that he can reverse defence import / indigenous ratio in next five years. CAN HE ? YES, certainly he can…and to back my faith here is an anecdote from long time back fully in line with the theme of MAKE IN INDIA.

Some time in the early Nineties a military establishment was raised to upgrade our PARACHUTE COMMANDOS into SPECIAL FORCES. This small fledgling establishment among other things had a Section with the high sounding name of RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT. As the raising progressed, there were visitors from Majors to Major Generals, and most of them were curious about this R&D Section. Often there used to be a comment, lightest of which used to be a joke, but mostly full of snide or acidic comments. As no Commander was posted, till the raising was nearly completed in ten months, the burden of suffering such NAY SAYERS fell on the General Staff Officer, a Major with about 15 years service,who was in charge of the Raising (those days you became a Lt Colonel, if selected, after about 17 years of service).

Fed up of the taunts, the Major had a plan ready but there were no resources. A few months down the line when the Commander of the outfit a Brigadier arrived, the plan was immediately put up to him by the Major, right after the initial Briefings. The aim was to have a device fabricated by the R&D Section, which would be useful to the Special Forces and at the same time have a grand impact on the ‘Doubting Thomases’. The device chosen was the obsolete Exploder Dynamo Star, Mark7 and it’s Test Set Demolition, both weighing together about 17 Kg plus, available with the Indian Military since Second World War. This weight had to be physically carried by the Para Commandos on their back at Section level and above. In comparison, as the Commandos had seen in Sri Lanka, the LTTE had sleek looking devices, weighing less than a Kg, and virtually FAIL SAFE.

The Plan was approved and the Major called the young technical Officers who by now had reported and briefed them them to fabricate the device at the earliest. Meanwhile both the Army HQ and the DRDO had been approached for a replacement of these two bulky and near obsolete items by a Made In India item or thru import (though a fledgling HQ, we were permitted to interact directly with DRDO). Army HQ, Military Operations was also asked to issue funds for the R&D Section. Two months later the result was as under:

(a) Army HQ forwarded a set of brochures from US/ NATO countries. Cost of required device were between 5 to 10 thousand American Dollars each.

(b) DRDO said that a prototype could be developed within six months to a year, with the cost somewhere between 50 thousand to 80 thousand rupees each.

(c) The R&D Section produced a sleek looking lightweight device weighing just 300 gms for a princely sum of rupees 800. The designing was done by a Young Officer from Corps Of Signal, a Young Officer from Corps of Engineers and a Young Officer from Corps Of EME. The manufacturing was done with the help of a local radio mechanic who was paid a grand sum of rupees 500 for his effort. To make the item SOLDIER PROOF, the weight was increased to 600 gms by strengthening the outer frame.

Luckily the DGMO ( Director General Military Operations ) was also visiting just then and was shown the device ( replacement for both the Exploder Dynamo and the Test Set Demolition…17 Kgs replaced by 600 gms ). A quick demonstration was also given by exploding a very small amount of plastic explosives, just a few meters away from the DGMO. This resulted in immediate grant of 30000/- by the DGMO, to manufacture the first lot to meet the immediate training requirement. Soon rest of the Army, especially Corps of Engineers units too started enquiries for the product but the cost to them was placed at 3000/-.

(Two of the young technical Officers became Brigadiers and one of them is now about to become a Major General and one day should be heading the Corps of Signals.)

So if MAKE IN INDIA could be done with virtually no resources by a bunch of very young technical officers due to initiative of an Infantry Major rank officer,backed by a Thinking Brigadier, then certainly it can be achieved by an IITian Rasha Mantri with the backing of the PM and the Nation.