Today the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) made a decision to procure 83 indigenous Tejas jets of Rs. 48000 crore. I would call this a watershed moment in the history of Indian defense manufacturing.
We know that Indian is the second largest defense importer in the world after Saudi Arabia. We import pretty much many important components like Tanks, Aircraft, Howitzers etc.
The current decision is a watershed momment becasue of multiple reasons:
- In a land battle, Airforce is a very important piece of the war puzzle. Israel had won the six day war due to the immense role played by its air force. It is no surprise that Isreali air force is the best air force in the Arab world and hostile Arab nations view Isreali air force with awe. China and Pakistan share a land border with India and hence it is important for India to have a strong air force. Lets realize the fact that in the diplomatic field no country is a friend of other, every country looks after its own interests. During the time of war or peace, when we make urgent purchases, we not only pay more money but also make more compromises with the vendor nation, which could range from trade, diplomacy etc.
- I would fault the successive governments starting from Nehruji for not having made a serious effort in building an industrial defense complex. This had a very disastrous outcome. Starting Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, he started inducting middlemen for doing all defense procurement. The lobby that got created became so entrenched in government circles that they had the power and influence any business deal. We have just heard of Sonia Gandhi’s close aide Quattrorichi, but I would say that he was once of the early influential defense middleman. Later thousands of such middlemen got created. I remember, one senior DRDO official was asked a question “If India is able to build ICBMs, why are we still purchasing tanks, guns”? He said “Don’t ask me, ask the politicians”. What I interpret here is: the middlemen lobby is not letting the defense manufacturing pick up in India just to ensure that their hands remain wet.
- I can think of 2 primary reasons why there was so much opposition to Rafale deal. First, the Rafale deal was a Government to Government contract i.e. no middleman was involved, so no commission. Second, Rafale increased the strength of IAF significantly, some experts say IAF even had an edge over China. Hence, with such an antinational lobby present in India, it is important that we are independent. Or else, the people like the Gandhis or Bhushans will derail any procurement which will ultimately weaken India. Please note, Rafale may have had a big role to play in India responding to China assertively in Ladakh.
- Last, but not the least a lot of the money would be ploughed back to economy in form of jobs, taxes etc.
It is good to see that India is able to builder Combat aircrafts, Aircraft carriers, Submarines etc. on its own. More than anything else it is imperative to be “atmanirbhar” in defense sector.
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