Amit Cowshish is a former Financial Advisor (Acquisition), Ministry of Defence and presently a Distinguished Fellow with the Indian Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. Click here for Detailed Profile
It is time the MoD considered creating structures and organizations that are not an intrinsic part of the ministerial set up to implement the production and procurement policies once these are formulated by the ministry.
The strategic discourse on defence and security matters in India revolves around familiar themes and sub-themes, ranging from larger issues such as the absence of a clearly articulated national security policy to somewhat fractious issues such as the higher defence management, civil-military relations and modernization of the armed forces.
A loosely articulated idea of making India a defence manufacturing hub cannot work unless it is backed by a comprehensive blueprint, efficient procedures, meticulous implementation, trained and responsive manpower, continuous monitoring and quick decision-making.
Three months after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was swept to power at the centre in the general elections held in April–May 2014 to the 16th Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament), the Standing Committee on Defence was constituted under the chairmanship of Major General B.C. Khanduri (Retd.), former Chief Minister of the northern state of Uttarakhand and a prominent member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the main constituent of the NDA.
There has been much speculation since 2011 about who is going to manage the proposed fund, how is it to be different from the already existing technology related heads in the defence budget, and how will the amount set aside for the purpose be utilized.
While the government is widely seen as investor-friendly, investment decisions, however, are made on more tangible considerations – ease of doing business, security of investment and intellectual property rights, and returns on investment.
Widespread problems have made the operating environment ‘dysfunctional and inefficient’. Some of this is on account of inscrutable issues like ‘integration of the services with the MoD’ or ‘civil-military relations’ but, in large part, the immediate problem lies with MoD’s inability to resolve more mundane issues.
There is no single agency in MoD to deal with these issues holistically. Generally, matters related to administrative powers are processed separately for each service by the administrative wings concerned with little concern for commonality.