We cannot afford to be wishy washy in matters of our defence preparedness and must leave no stone unturned in strengthening our commitment to defend our territories. This was the crux of what Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke while formally inaugurating the Defence Expo 2018 at Thiruvidanthai in Tamil Nadu on April 12. It is a four day long India’s biennial exhibition of military platforms and weapons. More than 500 Indian companies and over 150 foreign companies as also official delegations of more than 40 countries would be participating in the event. The event is of special significance as it is aimed at projecting the country as a hub of defence manufacturing and exporting. This must be seen with special reference to the challenges on our borders from China as seen in their protracted activities along 4000 km long border with the country. Its activities being upped in Indo- Pacific region with intent to expand its influence cannot be just ignored.
The challenges and concerns faced by the country can also be seen in the diabolical designs of China in having buddied Pakistan, encouraging it to the extent of disregarding the world opinion in declaring Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. This move of China may look to many, of not much importance but chumming Pakistan to an extent of encouraging even terrorism, despised by the entire world, must motivate us towards shunning any lackadaisical approach towards our defence preparedness and bolstering our armed forces on perpetual basis.
Various initiatives by the present dispensation in promoting defence production in India have started leaving imprints of seriousness about the sensitive area in contrast to the scenario witnessed earlier. Purchasing 36 Rafale jets, paving way for 110 more jets, $15 billion worth projects slated to be started in India for manufacturing fighter jets in India for which many global military aviation companies are vying with one another, are a few giant steps taken towards our military preparedness and modernization of our weaponry programme. The Prime Minister, in this context had a jibe at the previous Government by saying, “Issues that should have been long addressed by previous Governments are being resolved now.”
This country, however, historically and culturally has been committed to ushering in peace and never invaded countries to subjugate them but at the same time, we have strong resolve to protect our territories. For this, one of requirements of our Army was howitzer guns, the first batch of these guns is to be delivered to the Army by September 2018. The rest of the 145 guns were expected to be delivered in batches starting June next year. Innovation for Defence Excellence scheme launched by the Government would ensure setting up of Defence Innovation Hubs across the country to provide necessary incubation and infrastructural support to start ups in the defence sector.
The Government has liberalized the procedures both for direct foreign investment in India’s defence production as also in exporting the military hardware. As per the data available, in 2014 total number of defence export permission granted stood at 118 for an amount of $577 million. In less than four years, as at the end of last year, 794 more export permissions for a total value of over $1.3 billion was granted by the Government.
The great Indian thinker, philosopher and a strategist Kautilya or Chanakya was, on the occasion, invoked by the Prime Minister who wrote more than 2000 years back, “The king or the ruler must protect the people.” With this quote, the PM reiterated the duty and the commitment of the Government to guard, protect and defend our territories with all our might. Needless to add, the great Indian thinker Kautaliya needs to be read widely and researched with regard to his views on taxation, governance, diplomacy and policies of administration.
The Prime Minister assured the nation that “laziness, incompetence and policy paralysis hampered our defence preparedness in the past but not now, not anymore, never again.”