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Aligned, To Perform

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat’s statement, aligned with the stated policies of the government, is only an indicator of good intentions. At the end of the day, the three service chiefs have to ensure that the sword remains sharp.

Commodore G Prakash (Retd)

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At the core of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat’s statements on making India more self-reliant in defence lay India’s resource crunch. An old issue, now aggravated by Covid-19. And the essence of Gen Rawat’s solution to the problem was indigenisation and self-reliance, in the spirit of slogans like Make in India. An absolutely honourable aim, this.

It is important for all arms of the government to align doctrinally and functionally, ever ready to make adjustments for the collective good. Intelligent leaders know this well. Admiral John Fisher, who was Britain’s Navy Chief from 1904 to 1910 is a great example. He was a brilliant man, who understood the strengths of technology, the buzz word of the Industrial Revolution then raging in Britain. He clearly saw war clouds on the horizon, which many political leaders failed to see.

The rare ones who saw the war clouds, wished war away, or hoped to prevent war through diplomacy. But Fischer knew that as the Navy chief, he would be the one explaining if Britain lost a war at sea. No politician was going to be take any responsibility. He had a definite plan to make his Navy the world’s best, through a force building programme centred on a new class of ship, the Dreadnaught. But the money available was not enough.

He, therefore, did something that made him a darling of the Parliament. He announced a series of measures to downsize and cut costs. This shocked his own service. However, he gained the confidence of the political establishment, got the money he wanted, built his Navy, and with some luck and plenty of help from the US, won the war. This victory was especially tough, as Britain had got used to a hundred years of peace, thus forgetting war.

Gen Rawat’s announcements may be best seen in this light. As CDS, Gen Rawat is saying the right things, with good intentions. However, unlike Fisher, Gen Rawat does not have a world class industrial complex, with great technology and surge capacity. So, we have to be careful while interpreting Gen Rawat’s words. Especially when luminaries interpret, because when they interpret, at times with subtle word play, they are, in addition to endorsing the General’s views, also opening up avoidable discussions that can cast unnecessary shadows.

Therefore, this response. War-Mongering Generals and Former Faujis

The military clearly understands that its job is to deter war. Therefore, there is no constituency of ‘angry pro-war generals (and ex-faujis)’. Some veterans who scream on TV for war are mercenaries, doing it for the money they get for their ranting. They do not reflect the thinking of those serving at any level.

In fact, for the majority, they are an embarrassment. The military man is a professional. He doesn’t hate his enemy. He respects him. It is only then, that he can defeat him. Further, deterrence is achieved only through credible capabilities by way of equipment, training, command and control structures, infrastructure, and high morale.

The professional soldier aims for these, to deter war. Disillusionment with Defence Budget The military leadership clearly understands the myriad requirements of India where money available must go. In the 73 years since Independence, they have gained adequate institutional knowledge to expect any defence budget above a certain level. However, they would be failing in their duty if they don’t constantly evaluate potential enemies and project operational and other requirements to mitigate the threat.

Further, militaries don’t go to war. Countries go to war. Countries go to war only as a last resort, when all other methods available across the diplomatic spectrum have proved futile and the country would still like to attain whatever national aim it had set out to achieve. So, use of the available money to strengthen the various elements of national power like the economy, industry, human resources, agriculture, infrastructure, technology are more than welcome for the military leadership. So, to say that they are disillusioned because of inadequate defence budget, is uncharitable.

Dependence on Imports Militaries are complex mechanisms which take time to build. Once committed on a force structure, the supporting elements from training to infrastructure are put in place over a period of time. While it is possible to review force creation yet to start, going back on what is in progress, is senseless. Even tweaking what is in progress, is a costly affair. That is why careful planning, approvals and commitment on expenditure are necessary for force building. In this process, import has remained a major option, only because indigenous industry has failed to develop the necessary capabilities.

The reasons for this failure can be debated. But not the truth of it. Exaggeration of Operational Needs Bhadrakumar’s endorsement of Gen Rawat’s advice that ‘the operational requirements of the armed forces should not be “misrepresented”, which Bhadrakumar prefers to change to “exaggerated”, is the endorsement of a debatable opinion. By further adding slightly on to Gen Rawat’s words that “India’s defence strategy is (strictly) limited to defending the country’s borders and dominating the Indian Ocean Region” he obliquely conveys that the requirements of India’s armed forces have been small, thus not justifying the imports sought. Surely, ‘defending the country’s borders and dominating the Indian Ocean Region’, is easier said than done. Borders exist only on land.

Defending our 15200 km land border, most of which we share with either Pakistan or China, through all kind of weather, terrain or enemy action, is a gargantuan task. Moreover, the ‘border’ is not a goalpost manned by a goalkeeper. The Army’s job is not just to defend, but also to offend, to enter enemy territory, and to make gains, for use later at the negotiating table. Dominating the Indian Ocean, is even tougher. While land borders clearly indicate where the enemy can or cannot not be, the situation at sea is different.

Here, the enemy could be all around, as there are no borders at sea. Since waters can bring enemy from any distance or direction, warfare at sea is a perennial effort at surveillance, of a large part of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, and being present in many parts of this vast area, so that military pressure could be brought to bear on inimical activity early on, well away from our maritime assets. This surveillance, on the surface, in the air and under the sea, is a tough effort that needs serious capabilities, as lucidly stated in India’s Maritime Security Strategy, (IMSS 2015) a Naval Headquarters publication of 2015.

In the absence of an approved National Security Strategy Document for guidance, individual services are forced to do stand-alone thinking, produce their own documents and follow them. Imitating Foreign SQRs Having worked in the area of generating Staff Qualitative Requirements at NHQ, I personally know the process. Here again, endorsement of what Gen Rawat termed as “unrealistic”, is not correct. SQRs are not made imitating advanced countries. SQRs are made after a careful process of evaluating the threat, and figuring out the necessary level of mitigation, in time, space and intensity. Realistically, from both our potential adversaries, we are up against mostly Chinese weapon and sensor technology, which even the US takes seriously.

The dilemma faced by the Pivot Asia policy of the US, when confronted by China’s A2/AD is not a phenomenon of the distant past. China’s muscular policies in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the world, despite opposition from US and her allies, is indicative of China’s resolve, which probably stems from their confidence in their arsenal and associated systems. We are also up against this. Hence, it is important to acquire technologies and systems that defeat what is arrayed against us. If it is not available in India, then it has to be acquired from elsewhere. Or else, at the highest level we must accept dents in our capabilities.

Not a prudent idea, as a smart enemy would attack, exactly where we are weak, and the Armed Forces, would be the ones, answering questions. Cold Start & Two-Front War Cold Start, a war doctrine aimed at punishing Pakistan without risking a nuclear clash, is a practical option for India, and Gen Rawat himself has on record acknowledged its existence a few years ago. It has everything to do with speed and resolve and nothing to do with type of equipment available, imported or indigenous. Nothing in Gen Rawat’s words conveys any scrapping of this doctrine. As for a two-front war, it is, the worst military situation for us and hence, what we must prepare for.

Nothing has changed materially to discard this possibility, and Gen Rawat’s words don’t lead to any such conclusion. India-US Strategic Friendship While this 15-year-old ‘friendship’ has ‘strengthened’ in bits and spurts, opportunities to review the dependence we must place on this, keep presenting themselves periodically. However, to me, we have not reached a stage where there is an “obsessive drive to attain interoperability between the Indian and US militaries”, as opined by the author. India’s age-old penchant for unpredictability in big-ticket procurement or choosing alliances and friendships based on the need of the hour, are very much there on regular display.

Even the US, knowing our record well, will realise that they may never come anywhere near “dominating the Indian bureaucracy — civilian and military alike”, major defence partner or not. Moreover, the insinuation that the military and the bureaucracy has been bought over cheap, with avenues for personal aggrandisement thrown in, is an overkill. The military, with its deep sense of honour, is not there to be bought off, en masse. The bureaucracy too, may not be very different. And the government is not likely to face any war of attrition from “the Indian civilian and military bureaucracy and other entrenched interest groups”. Gen Rawat’s declared stand proves exactly this. Two Carrier-Based Fleets One fleet each, with its own aircraft carrier on the West and East coasts of India, has been a part of our approved force structure from the first decade after Independence.

As war at sea involves all three mediums, the availability of air power at least for air defence and anti-submarine warfare is an absolute necessity. Warships made out of iron and operating in a salt filled medium, are maintenance intensive. Consequently, they spend a third of their life in refit. The need for a third aircraft carrier is therefore elementary. This is especially relevant with the ever increasing Chinese and Pakistani focus on submarine warfare. While geographical and fiscal realities rule out carrier borne air power for Pakistan, it is not so for the Chinese. Their carrier strength is steadily increasing. Navies do not have to be expeditionary, to need integral air power.

It is basic prudence in maritime warfare. Even Britain is getting back into the world of carriers, after long. To say that our Navy covets three carriers because the US Navy has ‘seven’, is not charitable. As for submarines, yes, India needs more of them too. So, how do we get all these with our limited resources? It is possible, with a systematic, top down approach, with the birth of a National Security Strategy Document as the start point.

Grace Having a strong military has always been an expensive proposition down history and national leaders who understood the need for strong militaries have always found innovative ways to possess them. Those who didn’t, bit the dust. This is even more stark for sea power, where the linkage with politics is dire and direct. A strong maritime power requires a good fighting Navy, a good merchant marine and good ports and associated policies. Five hundred years ago, India had a good merchant marine and excellent ports. But the absence of a fighting Navy condemned us to 450 years of foreign domination.

Today, while we have a good fighting Navy, we need to improve our ports and raise a good merchant marine. However, our Navy remains the ultimate hedge in projecting power beyond our waters, anywhere in the world. The prospect of China springing back early from the Covid-19 episode and the love that Pakistan displays for their nefarious activities even in these times of Covid-19, are good reasons for us to ensure that our focus on our own security doesn’t flag.

Gen Rawat’s statement, aligned with the stated policies of the government, is only an indicator of good intentions. At the end of the day, the three service chiefs have their job cut out. They have to ensure that the sword remains sharp.

Commodore G. Prakash, Nau Sena Medal, served the Indian Navy for 35 years. A specialist in aviation and anti-submarine warfare, he has held several command and staff appointments at sea and ashore. He has been a speaking and writing on military and strategic affairs for long. He is available at gp1064@gmail.com

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Defence

MOD APPROVES RS 498.8 CRORE BUDGETARY SUPPORT FOR DEFENCE INNOVATION THROUGH IDEX-DIO

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) – Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years. The budgetary support will provide a big boost to the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as iDEX–DIO has the primary objective of self-reliance and indigenisation in defence & aerospace sector of the country. The creation of the iDEX framework and establishment of the DIO by the Department of Defence Production (DDP) is aimed at creating an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D development which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.

The scheme, with budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years, is aimed at providing financial support to nearly 300 start-ups/MSMEs/individual innovators and 20 partner incubators under the DIO framework. It will support increased awareness in the Indian innovation ecosystem about defence needs and, conversely, in the Indian Defence establishment about the potential of the Indian innovation eco-system to deliver innovative solutions to meet their needs. The DIO, with its team, will enable the creation of channels for innovators to engage and interact with the Indian Defence production industry. The long-term effect to be realised by the group is the establishment of a culture, where enlisting the effort of innovators by the Indian military is commonplace and frequent. The scheme aims to facilitate rapid development of new, indigenised and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector to meet their needs in shorter timelines; create a culture of engagement with innovative start-ups to encourage co-creation for defence and aerospace; empower a culture of technology co-creation and co-innovation within the defence and aerospace sector and boost innovation among the start-ups and encourage them to be a part of the ecosystem.

The DDP will release funds to DIO for setting up and managing the iDEX network in the form of Partner Incubators (PIs); communicating with innovators/start-ups/technology centres of MSMEs through the PIs including the PIs of Department of Science and Technology regarding defence and aerospace needs; organising various challenges/hackathons to shortlist potential technologies and entities and evaluating technologies and products developed by innovators/start-ups in terms of their utility and impact on the defence and aerospace setup. The other activities include enabling and funding pilots using innovation funds dedicated to the purpose; interfacing with the Armed Forces top brass about key innovative technologies and encouraging their adoption into the defence establishment with suitable assistance; facilitating scale-up, indigenisation and integration in manufacturing facilities for successfully piloted technologies and organising outreach activities all across the country.

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Defence

PASSING OUT PARADE OF TES-37 COURSE HELD AT COLLEGE OF MILITARY ENGINEERING

Ashish Singh

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The passing out parade of the cadets of the Technical Entry Scheme—37 Course at the Cadets Training Wing, College of Military Engineering (CME) at Pune—was held on Saturday. The parade was reviewed by Lt Gen PP Malhotra, Commandant CME. Thirty-three Gentlemen Cadets of the Course, including three gentlemen cadets from Bhutan and two from Sri Lanka, were commissioned as officers.

Though parents of the passing out course could not attend the ceremony owing to COVID related restrictions, the parade was streamed live on YouTube. Lt Gen PP Malhotra, presented several awards to Gentlemen Cadets for excellence in training. The parade conducted with traditional military regalia, was commanded by Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Chauhan. The coveted General Officer Commanding in Chief Army Training Command Gold Medal for standing first in overall performance in three years at CTW was awarded to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar. The Silver and Bronze Medal was awarded to Gentlemen Cadet Sonam Tshering from the Royal Bhutan Army and Wing Cadet Quarter Master Prince Kumar Singh respectively. Cadets of the Wing also had the distinction of being awarded the Commandant Officers Training Academy Silver medal to Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Singh Chauhan and the Bronze Medal to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar for their meritorious performance in the combined four years of training, including one year at the Officers Training Academy, Gaya. Echo Platoon was awarded the General Officer Commanding in Chief’s Banner for performing exceedingly well in the Inter Platoon Competitions and emerging as the Champion Platoon.

Addressing the parade, the General Officer congratulated the Gentlemen Cadets for their superlative performance in the training period at the wing and their immaculate parade. Lt General PP Malhotra, highlighted that the cadets were at the cusp of a new beginning as young military leaders, and on their broad shoulders lay the future of our gallant Army. He urged the future officers to make their nation and the Alma Mater proud by rendering selfless and honourable service. He also stressed on imbibing strong moral values and ethics. The passing out parade was followed by a Commissioning and an oath taking ceremony for the newly commissioned officers.

College of Military Engineering has emerged as the finest technical institutions in the Indian Army. Recent forays of the College into Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Engineering Materials have been lauded by all. The college has entered into MoU with academic and industrial majors to absorb best engineering practices and infuse a culture of innovation in the Indian Army. Several projects from the College have been displayed and awarded in forums such as the iDEX4Fauji and the Army Day Parade, this year.

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Defence

INDIAN COAST GUARD ADDS TEETH TO ITS AVIATION ARM

Ashish Singh

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NEW DELHI: In line with the PM’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Dr Ajay Kumar, Defence Secretary, inducted Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) Mk-III in Indian Coast Guard (ICG). The state-of-the-art helicopters are indigenously designed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bengaluru. The maiden ceremony was carried out through digital means, keeping Covid protocol at fore and promoting GoI’s vision of ‘Digital India’. Indian Coast Guard Director General K Natarajan, Mr R Madhavan, CMD, HAL and MoD officials were among those who attended the event. Dr Ajay Kumar in his address praised the perseverance of the ICG and M/s HAL by inducting these helicopters in testing times and progressing our Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Make in India’. He also brought out the importance of having these advanced helicopters for ICG to operate them across the spectrum of Coast Guard operations.

The ALH Mk-III marine version has been designed and developed with in-house customisation of 19 additional equipment by HAL to meet ICG requirements. HAL will supply 16 ALH Mk-III to the ICG by the mid of next year. The helicopter is capable of undertaking embarked operations from ships which will enhance Coast Guard capabilities towards Sea air co-ordinated search, interdiction capabilities, Coastal Security, Search and Rescue operations, medical evacuation,Humanitarian missions, Pollution response missions, etc. While appreciating ICG for the recently conducted successful operations of drugs & arms seizure and saving lives during cyclones Tauktae & YAAS, Defence Secretary said the capacity and capability augmentation of the service needs to be materialised in a time bound manner considering the onerous responsibilities bestowed on ICG by the GoI.

On induction, the 16 ALH Mk-III will be positioned at 4 Coast Guard squadrons at Bhubaneshwar, Porabandar, Kochi and Chennai. The shared maritime boundaries with littoral states are highly susceptible to illegal activities and the regions are prone to frequent cyclones.These squadrons with embarked operations will ensure seamless surveillance and provide assistance to fishermen in distress at sea. Director General K Natarajan while acknowledging the efforts of Tatrakshaks for recent concurrent successful operations said that ICG is as prepared as ever to discharge its duties and induction of ALH Mk-III will usher a new paradigm shift in our capability to undertake ship borne operations and enhance surveillance prowess with extended reach. He also brought out that these helicopters will be deployed in a coordinated matrix along with ships and aircraft to strengthen the service capabilities in Area of Responsibility and beyond. Speaking on the occasion, Mr R Madhavan said with this contract, HAL is embarking on a new journey of Performance Based Logistics (PBL). The PBL will assure desired levels of availability of ALH MKIII fleet of ICG for six and half years, a unique feature of this contract and a first of its kind in HAL. These helicopters are equipped with state of the art equipment like Surveillance Radar, Electro Optic Pod, Medical Intensive Care Unit, High Intensity Search Light, SAR Homer, Loud Hailer, Machine Gun and can perform other key roles. Helicopter MRO Division is the nodal agency for execution of PBL contract along with Engine Division and other Sister Divisions of HAL.

ABOUT PBL

The PBL will provide a One Stop Solution for maintenance of complete Helicopter, Engine and components which encompasses Helicopter/Engine Servicing Task, Rotable Repair Task (RRT), Repair & Maintenance Spares Order (RMSO) etc. As part of PBL, Helicopter MRO Division of HAL will be extending the support from four bases viz. Bhubaneswar, Porbandar, Chennai and Kochi. All necessary infrastructure, repair facility etc are set up at Bhubaneswar and Porbandar, dedicated LRU/ Rotable floats are stocked and On-site support team is identified towards ensuring the availability of Helicopters. Chennai & Kochi are in the final stages. In addition, HAL Aviation Maintenance Software (HAMS), a web based online platform is developed and deployed by Helicopter MRO Division for real time monitoring and operational visibility of fleet through a dedicated leased line network.

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Defence

INDIAN‌ ‌ARMY‌ ‌HANDS‌ ‌OVER‌ ‌MEDICAL‌ ‌EQUIPMENT‌ ‌TO‌ ‌NEPALI‌ ‌ARMY‌ ‌

Ashish Singh

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NEW DELHI: As part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, medical equipment and supplies worth Nepali Rupees 28.80 crore provided by the Indian Army were handed over to the Nepali Army on Friday. In a ceremony at Nepali Army Headquarters, Tundikhel today, the medical equipment was handed over by Ambassador Vinay Mohan Kwatra to General Purna Chandra Thapa, Chief of the Nepali Army. The ambassador reaffirmed India’s support to Nepali Army in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and lauded its contribution in this respect.

The medical equipment, including Ventilators, Ambulances, ICU beds, PPE Kits, PCR test Kits etc was delivered to Kathmandu on 10 June 2021. The Indian Army has been assisting the Nepali

Army to fight Covid-19 through various kinds of assistance since last year, including 1 Lakh doses of Covishield vaccines which were provided in March 2021.

The latest assistance is another testament to the close cooperation between the two armies and the two countries, particularly in times of need.

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Defence Minister inaugurates BRO centres

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh dedicated to the nation two Centres of Excellence established by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at Seema Sadak Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. These Centres have been established to achieve excellence in road safety as well as foster growth in construction of roads, bridges, air fields and tunnels. The Centre of Excellence for Road Safety & Awareness (CoERSA) aims to create awareness about road safety through analysis sharing of road accidents and suggesting methods to save precious lives. The Centre of Excellence for Roads, Bridges, Air Fields and Tunnels (CoERBAT) focuses on institutionalising the knowledge gained over the years in development of almost 60,000 kilometres of roads, 56,000 metres of bridges, 19 airfields and four tunnels in the eastern and north-western part of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajnath Singh appreciated the efforts of BRO in establishing the Centres of Excellence, expressing confidence that they will play a pivotal role in saving precious lives. Terming road accidents as a silent pandemic that claims approx. 1.5 lakh lives every year, the Raksha Mantri stated that the Government has taken a number of initiatives such as National Road Safety Policy, Motor Vehicle Act 2020 and identification of black spots on national highways to tackle the problem and the setting up of these Centres is another step in that direction. The Raksha Mantri lauded the crucial role played by BRO in the progress of the nation since its inception by building roads, tunnels and other infrastructure in remote areas. He praised the efforts of BRO for working tirelessly in tough weather conditions to increase connectivity in border areas, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describing connectivity as an essential component of a nation’s progress, he said BRO is catering to the needs of the Armed Forces as well as working towards the socio-economic development of the border areas. He made special mention of the recent achievements of BRO, including state-of-the-art construction of ‘Atal Tunnel, Rohtang’, Kailash Mansarovar Road and Zojila pass. He also appreciated BRO for raising awareness about road safety through innovative slogans and signboards. Rajnath Singh also listed out various measures taken by the Government for the development of BRO. These include increase in the budget of BRO, approval of special high-altitude clothing for the personnel as well as cadre review to boost the morale of the organisation. He assured BRO of continued support of Ministry of Defence, saying that the Government remains committed to the progress of the far-flung areas of the country. He also remembered the BRO personnel who laid down their lives in the service of the nation.

During the event, the Raksha Mantri also launched four software developed to optimise the work efficiency of BRO personnel, their HR management, recruitment management, enrolment and works management. The BRO has created the software to reduce paperwork, with focus on minimising the carbon footprint. Rajnath Singh termed the development of the software as a great example of ‘Self-reliant India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns. He stated that the software will further improve the efficiency of the organisation, modernise it and save time. The first ever Solo Woman Motorcycle Expedition by Ms Kanchan Ugursandi to Umling La Pass, Ladakh and back was also flagged off on the occasion. The Raksha Mantri extended his best wishes to Ms Kanchan Ugursandi and expressed confidence that she will come out with flying colours and complete the task by setting new records.

Earlier, DG Border Roads Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry briefed Rajnath Singh on the initiatives and achievements of BRO in recent years. He informed the Raksha Mantri about the ongoing and future projects, with focus on AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also informed Raksha Mantri on the awareness campaigns being carried out by BRO related to COVID-19 and Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav in far-flung areas. The DG Border Roads said BRO remains committed towards serving the nation and would bring all necessary changes to enhance the efficiency of the organisation. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar were among the dignitaries present on the occasion.

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Defence

A LOOK AT DEFENCE MINISTRY’S 20 REFORMS IN 2020

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released an e-booklet titled ’20 Reforms in 2020’, highlighting the major reforms undertaken by Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2020, in New Delhi earlier this week. The compilation provides a brief overview of defence reforms undertaken in the year 2020 by MoD to bring about greater cohesion and modernisation of the Armed Forces through policy changes, innovation and digital transformation. Reforms also focused on the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; increased collaboration with the industry to boost defence exports; measures to accelerate defence acquisitions with greater transparency; digital transformation; strengthening of border infrastructure; increased participation of women in Armed Forces; transformation in R&D to boost innovation; expansion of NCC to remote locations and aid extended to the civil administration in fight against Covid-19. Raksha Rajya Mantri Shripad Y Naik, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary (Ex-Servicemen Welfare) Mr. Ravikant, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr G Satheesh Reddy and Financial Advisor (Defence Services) Mr. Sanjiv Mittal were present on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, Rajnath Singh termed the E-booklet as an important document on the bright future of the defence sector in the country. “The booklet is a reflection of the resolve of the Government, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Modi, to make the defence sector stronger and more efficient,” he said. The Raksha Mantri expressed confidence that the reforms undertaken by MoD will make India a global powerhouse in the defence sector in the times to come.

20 REFORMS IN 2020

Chief of Defence Staff & Department of Military Affairs

The appointment of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and creation of Department of Military Affairs (DMA) were among the major decisions taken by the Government. The post of CDS was created to increase efficiency & coordination among the Armed Forces and reduce duplication, while DMA was established to ensure improved civil-military integration. General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS who also fulfils the responsibilities of Secretary, DMA.

AATMANIRBHARTA IN DEFENCE

To promote ‘Make in India’ in defence sector, a list of 101 defence items was notified in August 2020, while Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 was unveiled in September 2020. Rs 52,000 crore budget was earmarked for indigenously made defence equipment in 2020-21. Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was approved in May 2020 for greater efficiency and productivity. There was an unprecedented push towards new technology developments within India. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) developed a ventilator in record time to meet Covid-19 requirements in May 2020.In November 2020, Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile, indigenously designed & developed DRDO, hit bullseye at medium range and medium height, while indigenously built Pinaka rocket system cleared test of 45-60 km range.

INCREASED DEFENCE EXPORTS

The increased partnership with the private sector has led to a substantial rise in defence exports. The value of total defence exports rose from Rs 1,941 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 9,116 crore in 2019-20. Also, for the first time, India figured in the list of defence equipment exporting nations, as the exports expanded to more than 84 countries.

MODERNISATION & INCREASED TRANSPARENCY IN DEFENCE ACQUISITION

In highest-ever thrust towards modernisation in last 10 years, there was 10 per cent budget increase in 2020-21 over the previous year. Policy reforms for increased transparency included launch of new Defence Acquisition Procedure in September 2020 and revision of DRDO Procurement Manual in October 2020. To encourage start-ups, a provision was introduced for procurement as Buy Indian-IDDM, while leasing for non-mission critical requirements was introduced for the first time.

DEFENCE ACQUISITIONS

First five Rafale fighter aircraft arrived in India in July 2020 and several more since then, adding firepower to the arsenal of the Indian Air Force. Despite the COVID-19 challenge, the aircraft were delivered timely and inducted into IAF.

REFORMING DEFENCE R&D

To promote innovation by young minds, five Young Scientists Laboratories of DRDO were launched in 2020 in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. DRDO has joined hands with the private sector in design & development and identified 108 Systems & Subsystems for the industry to design, develop and manufacture.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

For the first time, several organisations of Ministry of Defence went digital. Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) started online Pre-Delivery inspection in May 2020 to address security threats, while Armed Forces Tribunal began digital hearing for the first time in August 2020. Defence Estates, Canteen Stores Department, services in Cantonment, MoD Pension and National Cadet Corps (NCC) also went online providing faster and transparent services.

STRENGTHENING BORDER INFRASTRUCTURE

Reforms of processes and workflows within Border Roads Organisation (BRO) enabled it to achieve targets ahead of schedule, in some instances. World’s longest Atal tunnel above 10,000 feet, at Rohtang on the Leh-Manali Highway was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in October 2020. It provides all weather connectivity to the northern borders. Zojila pass, situated on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, was opened almost a month ahead of schedule in April 2020.

STREE SHAKTI IN ARMED FORCES

In 2020, Ministry of Defence took some historic decisions to increase participation of women in the Armed Forces. Ten streams of Indian Army were opened for giving Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission (SSC) Women officers, while women pilots of Indian Navy were operationalised for the first time. All Sainik Schools were thrown open for girl students from academic session 2020-21.

REFORMS IN NCC

Expanding the reach of NCC to remote locations was a major announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day on August 15, 2020. More than 1,075 schools/colleges in border and coastal areas were identified and the enrolment began in November 2020. In another decision, it was decided to give preference to NCC cadets in employment in Central Armed Police Forces from May 2020. Youth Exchange Programme Allowance for NCC cadets was increased from Rs 100 per day to Rs 750 and the number of countries was increased from 10 to 15.

AID TO CIVIL ADMINISTRATION DURING COVID-19

Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces have mobilised resources to aid the civil administration in fight against COVID-19. Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) provided all emergency support to tide over the situation. They have mobilised doctors, health professionals and set up Quarantine facilities at several locations across the country. DRDO has set up several hospitals to treat COVID patients across the states, passed on technology expertise to manufacture ventilators, oxygen plants, medicines, test kits and PPE kits to private sector for mass production.

HELP BEYOND BOUNDARIES

The Armed Forces extended a helping hand to the countries in distress. Indian Navy mounted eight relief missions during 2020-21. Besides evacuating stranded Indians from Iran, Sri Lanka and Maldives under Vande Bharat Mission, Indian Naval ships provided Covid-19 medical relief, including medicines and doctors, to five countries. INS Airavat provided 270 MT food aid to Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea struck by natural calamities. The Indian Coast Guard led the rescue operation to save Sri Lanka coast of its biggest oil spill. Indian Air Force carried out over 800 relief missions during 2020-21.

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