Aatmanirbhar Bharat: Corporatisation of OFB - The Daily Guardian
Connect with us


Aatmanirbhar Bharat: Corporatisation of OFB

Self-reliance in defence manufacturing is a must; the beginning should be the corporatisation of OFB, which will contribute to transforming the military from a force to a power, ensuring peace through preparedness.

Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (retd)



The 9 August announcement by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh placing an embargo on imports of 101 items is a game-changer as it will lead to a much-needed ecosystem and direction to self-reliance in defence manufacturing. The negative arms list will force Indian R&D and defence industry to develop and manufacture critical arms and equipment in India as import is no longer an option. However, equally or more important is to incentivise and encourage private defence industry to take the lead rather than bank upon the lethargic and suboptimal Ordnance factory board to drive the “Aatmanirbhar” initiative.

The recent multiple transgressions/incursions by China along the LAC and the treachery by the PLA at Galwan are a wakeup call for the nation and the armed forces. As China blatantly indulges in military coercion, India, and the Army in particular needs to be future-ready to deter China’s aggressive behaviour along the LAC. China respects strength and India will have to counter China from a position of relative strength. A peaceful, risen, responsible, resurgent India has to ensure continued peace through military preparedness. On account of competing priorities on a limited budget, which will take a further hit due to the Covid-19 impact, the Ministry of Defence will have to look inwards and ensure optimal utilisation of resources to meet and mitigate the China threat. While the disengagement process will be lengthy and laborious, the armed forces should plan ahead and be future-ready.

One of the major weaknesses in our capabilities and capacities is a weak Defence Industrial Base, centred around the government owned and operated 41 Ordnance factories and 9 DPSUS. India honestly does not have a defence industrial base to support the defence needs. We are the largest arms importers with 13% of global sales according to SIPRI data. India increased its arms imports by 43% between 2007 and 2011 and 2012-16 periods. About 60- 65% of military hardware is of Russia/Soviet Origin. If you take the import figures since 1950 to 2017 India has imported $119.89 billion worth of arms by far the largest, double than that of Saudi Arabia.

To the credit of MoD, the Defence Minister has given added impetus and focus to defence reforms, initiating action on many critical -pending issues. India needs to be Self Reliant in Defence and for that the private players have to play a leading role duly supported by the government and the armed forces. A self-reliant India in the defence sector is an imperative to position itself as a global leader, and deter China’s aggressive behaviour. Presently, the military is supported mostly by a captive OFB, which continues to follow archaic procedures and processes, resisting any change as it disturbs the comfort levels and existing equilibrium of the eighty odd thousand workforce and the management.

 The orders placed on the OFB and DPSUs are to the tune of Rs 59,000 crore, however, it is doubtful whether the armed forces have been given a reasonable deal. The defence budget is already stressed as the armed forces try to optimise the resources by cutting costs. As the armed forces are captive, they have no say in pricing often incurring higher costs for products which can be procured at lesser rates. Competition is essential for better quality products at appropriate costs. In addition the armed forces maintain a large inventory to cater for war wastage reserves (WWR). The costs to maintain this large inventory including infrastructure is prohibitive. The private industry should be encouraged and incentivised to become an integral part of the defence preparedness. The large WWR inventory can be reduced in case the industry has surge capacities built in the defence sector, which will cater for emergent situations reducing the dependence on imports.

 It is a common belief and a known fact that the OFB products are of poor quality, not reliable and come at a prohibitive cost on account of time and cost overruns. The soldiers also lack faith in OFB products on account of many accidents which occur due to poor quality of munitions at regular intervals causing avoidable loss of life and limbs. The military is captive and has no say in the costing which results in avoidable drain on a depleting defence budget. On account of a near total monopoly there is zero incentive and accountability for the ordnance factories to innovate and improve products. Numerous committees over the years have been set up to revamp the Ordnance factories, but the resistance from the workforce has succeeded in ensuring an uncanny status quo as the present system serves the best interests of the 80,000 plus workforce, guarding the turf. Nation and national security have to take priority over misplaced interests of a few who continue to thrive in a comfort zone. Earlier attempts by the government to corportise the OFB met with stiff resistance, wherein the workforce went on a strike paralysing defence production. So much so it was also reported that the work force threatened to strike work as on 01 July if the government insisted on corporatisation, this in the face of the ongoing situation along the LAC. Turf apparently is more important than the nation.

 Numerous committees set up by the government have recommended corporatisation of the OFB, starting with T.K.A. Nair Committee (2000), Vijay Kelkar Committee (2004) , Raman Puri Committee (2015) and the Shekatkar Committee, a committee of experts convened by Manohar Parikar in 2016, recommended the corporatisation of the OFB. Based on the report and to strengthen their self-reliance in defence production, the Government announced on 16 May 2020 under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package, that corporatisation of OFB would be undertaken to improve autonomy, accountability and efficiency in ordnance supplies.

The proposed transformation of OFB from a Government department to a public sector corporate entity will further defence preparedness, contributing to transforming “Indian military from a military force to a military power”.

The advantages that will accrue include:

• Enhance effectiveness and improve efficiency, move towards optimal costing.

• Reduce import dependency for arms and ammunition.

• Enhanced combat efficiency of the armed forces, ensuring customer satisfaction through timely delivery.

• Greater penetration in the defence export market.

 • Leap-frogging technology and innovation for self-reliance in defence.

• Sustainable business model and creation of jobs in the long run.

 • Increase production capacity and retention of capability & knowledge base.

• Improve flexibility and dynamism in decision making as corporate entity without shackles of Government procedures.

• Move away from cost plus mechanism to competitive pricing.

• Under-utilized capacities in factories will be better utilised.

 • Timely supply and quality of supplies by the factories will be improved.

 • Corporate entity to move from production based to technology based organisation enhancing selfreliance.

• Increased turnover/profitability to lead to enhanced employment and better service conditions for employees.

• Greater flexibility in technology acquisition through overseas assets.

• Top management in the corporatized structure would be in a position to provide leadership and could initiate change process to respond to competition. The factories may be able to create new streams of revenues by leveraging engineering and technological capabilities.

• Corporatised ordnance factories can form strategic alliances with Indian and overseas companies to develop new products. And carve out a niche in the international armament industry.

 Corporatisation of OFB into a 100% governmentowned public sector unit will also ensure quality arms and equipment enhancing the combat and cost effectiveness. The time for change is now, the government has implemented many hard decisions in the interest of national security, corporatisation of the OFB is an imperative and will contribute to transforming the military from a force to a power, ensuring peace through preparedness. The armed forces need to deter China’s aggressiveness ensuring territorial integrity which is best done from a position of relative strength. An Aatmanirbhar Bharat in defence manufacturing is a must; the beginning should be the corporatisation of OFB.

Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (Retd.) is the former Director General of Military Operations, Indian Army. He is currently the Director, Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS) and member of the Seketkar committee. Views expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CENJOWS.

The Daily Guardian is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@thedailyguardian) and stay updated with the latest headlines.

For the latest news Download The Daily Guardian App.





The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

Continue Reading





The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

Continue Reading





An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

Continue Reading





JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

Continue Reading


BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit



The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

Continue Reading





In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

Continue Reading