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Durga Prakash asked: There are media reports suggesting that India uses antiquated weapons. Is that true or India has the required advanced weapon system? Also, whether 49 per cent FDI in defence is enough to ensure India’s security preparedness?

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  • Vivek Chadha replies: There is no force in the world which can claim to have its entire range of weapon systems at the cutting edge level. Normally, depending upon the threat perception of a country and the capability it chooses to develop, a policy is formulated which lays down the mix of weapon systems that is required to be maintained. This is usually a combination of weapon systems which are state-of-art, grade two, and finally those which are in a state of obsolescence, i.e., ones which would soon need replacement, failing which they would become obsolete.

    The Indian armed forces are no exception to this rule and aim to maintain this proportion. However, there is a degree of misbalance in the ideal percentages which has crept in during the last few years as a result of the scale of inductions needed to modernise the forces, limited indigenisation capability for weapon systems, and slow procedures for procurement. The impact of these limitations has been particularly acute in certain critical areas of defence preparedness, leading to shortcomings.

    However, there has been a renewed focus on vital areas of defence preparedness. This has been accompanied by an attempt to manufacture weapon systems in India under the “make in India” initiative of the government. On the other hand, in order to make up for the critical deficiencies, direct government-to-government procurement has been initiated, which will speed up the process. There is also an attempt to empower the private sector in India, which may not have the experience to manufacture high end weapon systems. However, they have the required financial backup and technical skills to develop the necessary capabilities.

    The decision to allow 49 per cent FDI must also be seen in this perspective. On one hand, it will bring foreign capital and, on the other, the necessary technological inputs. In case of certain special projects, the government is also willing to increase the percentage of FDI on a case-to-case basis. While the jury is still out on the success of the initiative, however, it is clearly a step in the right direction.

    Posted on June 03, 2015