By Aritra Banerjee
The ongoing Union Budget 2022 announcement seems to have paved the way for ‘Make-In-India’ defence, with 68% of the defence budget earmarked for the indigenous defence industry. Mr SP Shukla, the president of the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), welcomed the announcement of “setting aside 68% of the capital outlay of the defence budget for domestic industries. This will sustain investments and attract fresh capacity creation.”
The “creation of a nodal body for setting up Testing and Certification requirements of defence systems and platforms will help the domestic industry through faster processes and cost-efficiency,” he added before going on to say, “allocation of 25% of Defence R&D budget for startups, academia and private industry is a much-needed reform. We thank the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance for this major boost to research and innovation.”
What Independent Analysts Have To Say
IA&D spoke to Air Vice-Marshal Pranay Sinha (Retd), who told this correspondent that, “on face value, it [68% defence budget allocation to Indian firms] will give impetus to the home industry. Long term impact – needs detailed study.”
Major General Rana Goswami (Retd) offered his take to IA&D: “Everything depends on the level of technology involved and its availability within the country. If you lay down limits, you may land up with no purchases because of non-availability or provide substandard products, which will let us down in war, as it has happened in the past.”
“We should select the best, wherever it is available. If ex-import, sign a TOT contract, so that a certain percentage is bought off the shelf for immediate needs and the remaining is made through technology transfer, within our country,” Maj Gen Goswami explained.
“Never go for substandard products, as it is our country’s security which is at stake. A loss in war or a battle will haunt you for years as 1962 does, and you can curse the guys who got you substandard stuff. It won’t help. Decisions based on vote bank politics is always bad in the long run,” the General concluded in his assessment.
Rear Admiral Vineet Bakshi (Retd) told IA&D, “Fundamental to the budget is the process for acquisition. This has been evolving continuously, such that there is no clarity or stability. A policy today is in the bin tomorrow. It would be prudent to have a system of procurement which would assure the suppliers of some stability of methods and assurance of continuity of orders.”
Looking at the Budget from naval perspective, RAdm. Bakshi explained: “In so far as a maritime perspective is concerned, the need for the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard is limited, barely 8-10 ships per year and one submarine per year. It would be worthwhile to build specialised capabilities in select yards to encourage highly specialised construction techniques, which take many years to develop.”
“Further, having built facilities, care also be taken to nurture them. GSL has built capabilities of making specialised Fibreglass Minesweepers, was given an order, but cancelled for some reasons. The Yard is now devoid of orders whilst the Navy has practically decommissioned most of its own MCMVs! Making in India is good policy, we need the technology to back it,” RAdm. Bakshi (Retd) concluded in his assessment.