Atmanirbhar Bharat Strive Webinar 28 Feb 22, Hotwash by Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (Retd)

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General

Atmanirbhar Bharat in the present global geopolitical context has assumed even more salience. Russian intervention in Ukraine which probably is the largest conflict since the Second WW 2 on the European Soil has posed several challenges to India especially related to the defence sector. Some of the defence projects/procurements that are likely to be affected are the Brahmos Joint Venture, delivery of S-400 rockets, AK 203 assault rifle project which is yet to take off due to bureaucratic hassles and Project 11356 frigates. Further due to our traditionally good relations with Russia we may have to remain neutral in the conflict thus jeopardising our procurements and strategic partnerships with various countries in the West including the all-important QUAD.

Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative announced by the PM following the COVID 19 pandemic has turned out to be the necessary evil that has now pushed India firmly on the path of Atmanirbharta. The 20-lakh crore initiative almost 10% of our GDP to promote Self-reliance announced by the PM on 12 May 2020 is a welcome step and covers several sectors such as defence, social sector, MSMEs, Agriculture, energy, migrant workers, civil aviation, and housing. The reforms include financial incentives to various sectors, legislative reforms, policy reforms and ease of doing business, especially for the MSMEs.

At the same time, the detractors of Atmanirbhar Bharat pose a counter that given the interdependence of trade in a highly connected world through digital and all forms of communication means self-reliance will only take us back economically and qualitatively. They have a point but is Atmanirbhar Bharat about absolute reliance or reliance in critical fields or sectors especially the defence, social sector, health, agricultural products, energy sector to avoid the consequences of Ukraine or COVID 19 type of situations.

Keynote Address by Sh. S. Gurumurthy

To answer the challenges and way ahead in operationalising our Atmanirbhar Abhiyan and its influence on the road to self-reliance at the conceptual level, Sh. S. Gurumurthy a well-known Economist, chartered accountant and co convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch spoke on the “The Concept of Atmanirbhar Bharat and it’s need to enhance India’s Capacity”. Salient issuescovered by the speakers were as follows: –

  • We need to reflect as to how were we able to sustain ourselves in the past following our swadeshi economic model prior to the invasion on our land by external forces and powers? Swadeshi Economic model may have the solution to resurrect us back to our old glory.
  • He also emphasised that the idea of globalisation was dead, and it was time for us to find solutions to our economic well-being through the Atma Nitrbahr Abhyan as this idea is integral to India.
  • To achieve Atmanirbharta he gave out four tools: –
    • Think ourselves.
    • Know ourselves.
    • Be ourselves.
    • Do ourselves.
  • To overcome self-reliance difficulties in critical technologies, he suggested going into strategic partnerships with friendly countries.
  • At the same time he also warned that while tolerance is an important virtue of India, it needs to avoid being over tolerant lest we are sorry later for international relations are dictated by realism rather than idealism and national interests must remain supreme.

He concluded his talk by once again stressing on the need to make the Atmanirbhar Abhyan a success through concerted and pragmatic efforts by drawing from our rich heritage of the past enshrined in our ancient literature such as Vedas, Gita, and Upanishads.

Thereafter, Mr Vivek Rae, former Petroleum Secretary, GOI and DG Acquisition in the MoD, GoI spoke on “Military-Industrial Complexes particularly the DICs, in improving the Defence Preparedness and make it independent of international restrictive regimes.” He highlighted on the following aspect of defence acquisition and procurement that would assist in making India Atmanirbhar in the Defence Sector: –

  • Realistic Goal Setting: While appreciating the GoI policy to achieve 70% indigenisation, he stressed the need for a much more realistic goal given our technological threshold and industrial base in the defence sector. He further added these goals, unfortunately, get tempered by the electoral cycle which is counterproductive in the long run. The defence and security world view must have a long-term perspective and be decoupled from political considerations.
  • At What Cost: The second issue which he highlighted pertaining to challenges to indigenisation was the issue of cost. It was seen that often the indigenous projects had a long period of fruition and were costlier and short on quality. He obliquely referred to projects like the indigenous UAV to them being procured from the US.
  • A disconnect between design and Development. He stressed the need to focus on the mission mode projects identified by the DRDO and undertake their development to their production being driven by the User (Service Concerned) including its budgeting.
  • Acquisition and Procurement: He also stressed on the need for all the stakeholders to understand the difference between acquisition and procurement. Currently, the indigenisation has been placed under the DMA, but he felt that there is a need for every branch of the MoD to have an indigenisation wing to achieve any meaningful results.
  • Introduction of Defence Contracting Agency System: He highlighted a major weakness in our acquisition and development system that of a single contracting agency due to the L1 concept. As the development costs are very high bidders do not want to take the risk of being rejected at the contract stage. He suggested the US model of having a Defence Contracting Agency which has the authority to contract a single vendor and cost rationalisation of the project is done by the agency based on very strict parameters prevalent in the market of similar industry.

Overall, he suggested some very pragmatic steps to achieve indigenisation and emphasising the need to work seriously towards the privatisation of the defence industry.

Thereafter Lt Gen Rameshwar Yadav, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd.) former DG Infantry, spoke onthe“Aspirations of the Armed Forces, the framework of the industry-user interface to ensure the readiness of the armed forces for the battlefields of tomorrow.”Salient issues highlighted by him included the doctrinal gap based on the revised threat matrix with orientation towards our Northern Borders and the need to reorganise and reorientate our strike forces accordingly. He also suggested upgrading our deterrence to cater for threats across the entire spectrum of the threat matrix. He further added that the defence forces desired a time sensitive procurement given the rapidity with the changes are taking place in defence technology and consequently the methods of warfighting. He suggested some measures to achieve indigenisation that would be in sync with the user aspirations. Some of the important measures were as follows: –

  • Encourage the private sector and provide a level playing field.
  • The introduction of the restrictive or negative list is a welcome step.
  • Earmarking 25% of the funds for development to the private sector is an excellent initiative.
  • He also stressed the need for pragmatic GSQR framing. India is a unique country with -50 to + 50-degree temperature variations but we need to be realistic of the QRs.
  • He also recommended the need to have a specialist cadre dealing specifically with procurements and acquisitions.
  • He also suggested placing Military Advisors in R&D, Industry and related departments of the MoD.
  • He also suggested an excellent initiative with reference to indigenisation that of not only make in India but make for India (location could be any). This may just invite large flow of FDI into the defence sector and help India tide over this all-important problem of indigenisation in the defence sector.

Thereafter Brig Amulya Mohan, SM, VSM (Retd.) and head the State Office of Society of Indian Defence manufacturers (SIDM) spoke on the “Progress of the DIC UP and the challenges which need to be addressed”. He initially gave out the role and charter of SIDM UP and its role in catalysing the establishment of the defence corridor in UP. He gave out the following progress on the DIC (UP):-

  • Land has been allotted in various DICs especially in the Aligarh pocket.
  • 19 Industries have been allotted the land in Aligarh and MoU also signed with them.
  • Five industries are expected to launch their projects this year.
  • Existing industries in Kanpur (IIT Kanpur has been earmarked as a centre of excellence for aviation) and Lucknow (HAL and DRDO Labs) will also be clubbed with the DIC pockets earmarked in this region.
  • In Agra given the sensitivity of environmental impact on the Taj has been earmarked for industries such as Robotics, Electronics and radar.

Question Answers

          Several questions were asked. These pertained to the corporatisation of OFB, indigenisation vs import, impact of indigenisation and negative list on quality of equipment by Mr Sunil Pant, AM Tiwari, Lt. Gen Dushyant, and Maj Gen Sudhakar. They were mostly directed to Mr, Vivek Rae who stressed once again the need for certain compromises if we must achieve indigenisation given the security situation in the world.

Concluding Remarks

Maj Gen AK Chaturvedi, AVSM, VSM (Retd.) Acting Chairman of STRIVE gave out the closing remarks highlighting the need for and importance of seriously working towards indigenisation. Conceptually, he highlighted the approach given out by SH, Gurumurthy to Think ourselves, Know ourselves, Be ourselves and Do ourselves. He also stressed the need for privatisation in the defence sector and seriously work on the introduction of the US System of Defence Contracting agency in India and the Make for India initiative. In the end, he thanked our distinguished guests, participants and Team Strive for making this webinar a success.

Happy listening to the Recording of the Program.

STRIVE Webinar Ser 11 on “Defence Industrial Corridors: A Step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat” was conducted on 28 Feb 2022 .

Sri G Gurumurthy, a Columnist, Political Economics Analyses addressed the Keynote Address on “Concept of Atma Nirbhar Bharat and its need to enhance India’s capacity.”

Sri Vivek Rae, former Secretary Govt of India, Petroleum and natural Gas, and former DG Acquisition Ministry of Defence. The scope of talk to include role of military industrial complexes, particularly the DICs, in improving the Defence preparedness and make it independent of international restrictive regimes.

Lt Gen Rameshwar Yadav, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd)- The scope of the talk to include aspirations of the Armed Forces, the framework of the industry-user interface to ensure the readiness of the armed forces for the battlefields of tomorrow.

 

Brig Amulya Mohan, SM, VSM (Retd), state head, Society for Indian Defence Manufacturers and member STRIVE- Progress of the DIC UP and the challenges which need to be addressed.

Author –   Lt Gen Dushyant Singh, PVSM, AVSM (Retd)  An alumni of NDC, DSSC, CDM and Naval Post Graduate School California, USA. He has attended the Regional Defence Counter-Terrorism Programme with specialization in Terrorist Operations and Financing in the US. He has served as UN as Military Observer, an instructor CDM, Secunderabad. Served and Commanded in J &K also served twice in NSG,  Chief of Staff, Eastern Command, GOC  Corps and Commandant Army War College. He has also written chapters in two books namely, “Understanding Suicide Terrorism (chapter on Deterring Terrorism)” and “Countering Terrorism: Psychological Strategies (Chapter on Impact of Virtual world in Creation and Sustenance of Terrorism)”, by Sage Publication.He is a prolific reader, writer and a keen sportsman. He writes regularly in leading dailies and military journals

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation that he belongs to or of the STRIVE. 

One thought on “Atmanirbhar Bharat Strive Webinar 28 Feb 22, Hotwash by Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (Retd)

  • March 31, 2022 at 10:24 am
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    This webinar was in line with The STRIVE’s commitment to highlight issues related to the Nation Building. Although the concept of Atma Nirbhar Bharat and indigenisation of Equipment related to defence is not a new one but the renewed emphasis is not a day too soon. It is my firm belief that achieving a substantial degree of self sufficiency in defence industrial complex will help India to achieve substantial autonomy in decision making besides reducing our fiscal deficit. Besides giving a boost to manufacturing few more areas which need to be addressed are; speedier build up of the related infrastructure; capacity build up along the entire chain of manufacturing and management and finally strengthening of the supply chain not only with in India but also in the domain of export so that prospects of Arms Export improve substantially. An are which presently is weak in the current matrix is user – industry interface which needs to be immediately addressed. My own sense is that this activity which is presently being done through centres of excellence established by IIT and DRDO will be able to help only marginally. Better results would be possible when Services start interacting with industry directly.

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