Atamnirbharta in defence

Dr Sudershan Kumar
The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, has certainly started to show its ramifications on the global order both economically, strategically with military reordering becoming evident. The economies of various nations, already reeling under the stress of COVID-19 have again been jeopardized. This could be multi factorial like sudden surge of crude oil/gas prices and paucity of food availability in global market. This was further damaged by the sanctions imposed by the USA and its allies on Russia as an economic weapon although not much dividends were yielded but ironically these sanctions certainly had an impact on global trade. But it seems Russians had already anticipated this and wereprepared for that. As a result,the war between the two nations is still continuing.If one goes by reports and analysis at different levels, one finds that Ukraine and its people have borne the maximum brunt of this war. More than five million people have already left the country. Nearly 7.5 million have been internally displaced. Russian bombing has caused large scale destruction in Ukraine.
The country has been thrusted back to the era of early twentieth century. Recent estimates for rebuilding the nation are around 760 billion US $. Although America and its allies provided economic aid and military equipment but none of them came forward to fight this war along with Ukrainians. Subsequently, the Russian invasion on Ukraine has tilted the balance towards Europe. But simultaneously, this war has certainly brought in an insecurity among the European nations. The European nations have been aroused from lazy dreams and virtues of pacifism. This development has brought renewed enthusiasm about the future relationship between European Union and NATO. This may also be viewed as a unilateral attempt by Europe to shape the world new world order and also to counter China. This war might have also exposed Washington’s ability as a fulcrum of trans Atlantic strategic imagination. This may possibly divide the world from uni polar to Multipolar. USA, Russia, China Europe,India and many other emerging powers may be future stake holders in terms of shaping the future world order. Besides the turmoil caused by Russia Ukraine conflict has also had an impact on south Asian nations including India. It is well known fact that India being the largest peninsula of the world is surrounded by embroiled neighbourhood and thus is up against an upheaval challenges to face especially from northern neighbour (China) and western neighbour Pakistan with whom it shares large land border. India shares nearly 3489 Kms land border with China and with Pakistan around 3323 Kms. The stand off between Indian army and PLA on Eastern Ladakh and failure of 16th round of crops commander level talk between the two armies clearly indicate the nefarious design of China against India. Similarly Pakistan despite being a failed state and also on the verge economic collapse leaves no stone unturned in creating unrest in Kashmir valley. Military Junta, Deep State of Pakistan and other Hawkish elements consider India as an eternal foe and use all possible means to bleed India with thousand cuts including extensive use of social media and dropping of arms/ammunition through drones. Thus on the pretext of all these aspects one arrives at a conclusion that threat of two and half fronts war in south Asia is quite predominant. India will have to face this in near future.
Therefore the the major take away from Global scenario arising out of Russian Ukraine war are:Firstly, India will have to fight its war itself. No third country is going to come forward to India’s aid militarily/economically. It is also a fact that Indian army has enough strategic depth to deal with any contingency. Secondly, Americans are not going to go for war with China. In case of war with China there may be global condemnation both at UNSC and UNGA like it happened in case of Russia and Ukraine war. Western powers may stay away from direct intervention. Thirdly, the Russia a close ally of India since decades may stay away. It may play a neutral role. Because over the years it has developed close proximity with China. Therefore, it is quite likely that the future war if happens would be fought by indigenous equipment. Hence Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan ” Vocal for Local and on Atamnirbharata” is his long term vision and strategy for making India self sufficient. Therefore the Atamnirbharta in defence is a way forward. By Atamnarbharta one means self development. Hence Atamnirbharta in defence is self sufficiency in producing weapons platforms with Indigenous technology. The three pillars of indigenously developed systems/plateforms are Basic Sciences, Development of Technology and large scale production as per requirement of armed forces. Although in seven decades massive infrastructure has been established for making India Atamnirbhar but the challenges in new domains has further escalated manifold. As a result, India still imports arms and ammunition from global market. The present Modi Govt. has taken a number of initiatives to enhance Atamnirbharta in defence through indigenous development and production. It is also appropriate to mention here that DRDO is the agency, which is primarily responsible for equipping the armed forces with indigenous technologies. Therefore the mission of DRDO is : a) Design and development of state of art sensors, platforms and different strategies equipment for armed forces b) also to provide technological solutions to services to optimize their combat effectiveness. c) develop infrastructure and commitment to provide strong indigenous base.
DRDO, the organisation, which was established in 1957 with 10 research laboratories and as testing centre has grown over the years into one of the most prestigious organizations not only within the country but worldwide. As on date DRDO has around 50 DRDO laboratories including ( four young scientists laboratories) scattered all over the country. More than 5000 scientists and 25,000 technical staff are pursuing R&D in the fields of Missile, Aeronautic, Armament, Naval systems Materials, Live sciences Combat Engineering and Electronic warfare etc. Over the years, DRDO has developed a number of different types of missiles with many ranges varying from1.5 Km to 5000 Km. Notably among them are Prithvi-1, Prithivi-2, Akash, Agni-1, Agni-2 Agni-3, Agni-4 Agni-5, BrahMos, and many other missiles catering to the defence needs of the country. Besides DRDO has also developed PINACA Mark-1,variety of radars, naval systems, LCA, APC, and MBT etc. Many of these systems were produced through Ordinance Factories and Defence Public sector undertakings.DRDO is also pursuing research in communication, cybre warfare, artificial intelligence and many other areas as per requirement of the country. Parellelly the technological challenges in new areas has increased manifold. Use of drones for precision strike in war and in peace is a new normal.US Drone strike in Kabul on 31ist July for eliminating Al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri is the glaring example of technological superiority.In fact United States had used the most advanced Hell Fire missile for precision target in the heart of Kabul with out any collateral damage. This clearly reflects that the possession of latest critical technology will always provide a upper hand against the adversary both in times of war and peace. Hence Atamnirbharta in defence is imperative. Realizing this fact, Modi Government has under taken number of measures to make India Atamnirbhar. Notably among them are : special emphasis on budget for indigenization of defence system, emphasis on defence R&D and making equipment testing facilities and proof ranges available to private sector for testing of developed equipment. Firstly, in 2022 budget, Centre Government has enhanced the domestic share of capital procurement for 53% to 58%. That is 1.24 Lakhs crores of rupees are earmarked for indigenous production. Secondly the government has year marked 25% R&D budget for private entrepreneur industry. This is very innovative move of the government. This will bring development and production on single platform. This will certainly cut short the delay between development and production time. Of course industry has been given the larger role to play.
Thirdly the GOI is in the process of creation of umbrella organization for testing and certification of defence equipment. Almost all the test facilities and proof ranges available with different organisations in the country will be placed under this umbrella organization. This will provide level playing fields for all the agencies involved in development and production.
Fourthly, Govt. of India has also created SPV by which Indian Industry can collaborate with DRDO. Besides, various other measures have been undertaken by the enhance Atamnirbharta in defence. Notably among them being ease of business, Startups,Make in India, Enhancement of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 74%, and many others.
The author is of the opinion that the congenial environment created by the present government at the centre will go a long way in making India a technologically superior leader.All these innovative, initiatives by the Govt. of India will prove to be milestones for making India Atamnirbhar in defence. All stakeholders should cash on this new eco system created by Government of India to achieve the goals .Of course DRDO will have to play a very vital role in making India Atamnirbhar in defence.