INDIA AND US SHOULD PURSUE THE ‘NEEDLES IN HAYSTACKS’ POLICY - The Daily Guardian
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INDIA AND US SHOULD PURSUE THE ‘NEEDLES IN HAYSTACKS’ POLICY

China respects strength. It has tested India’s strength in Doklam and in eastern Ladakh. Despite its initial bluster and threats, it has been militarily stymied. Our military pushback has been followed by economic and digital strikes with more stonewalling in the offing. In this third and concluding part, we will analyse what India needs to do vis-à-vis China.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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If focused upon systematically, China will be auto contained. So far the world has chosen to overlook them. We fell for ‘One China’ when there was none. We fell for ‘One China Two Systems’ when it was promised and violated. Time to change equations.

When Indian and Tibetan flags were waved at the funeral of Company Leader Nyima Tenzin of Special Frontier Force who died during the Kailash Range operations, there was widespread belief that ‘Tibet’ issue will be leveraged. It was short-lived due to haziness in Indian thinking, absolute clarity in China and a return to resigned helplessness amongst Tibetans worldwide. The issue has morphed significantly from the last century and needs deep understanding of new issues and must be played with finesse. Undue military action or rebellious violence will end any action being snuffed out like the Khampa Rebellion in the 1950s. Relevant issues pertaining to India, China and Tibet need to be brought into focus for India to chart out a future course of action. In the first part we examined the legality of Tibet being part of China and Chinese designs in Tibet. In the second part various facets of Tibet were examined. In this third and concluding part we will see what India needs to do.

China poses the most potent threat to India since Independence due to many reasons. China wants to settle the border by force on its terms. It is ramping up PLA to put India in its place and show ‘Who is the Boss’. It wants to strangulate India by ‘Insidious and Indirect’ moves through our neighbourhood and interfering in our local affairs. It is playing a high stake expansionist game for global domination by ambushing the US from the top and hammering down Indian rise. Lastly it is now posing a major environmental and ecological threat to India through dams on Brahmaputra in Tibet. Solidification of Tibet is now a stated programme which will have a spillover effect in India. Indian sovereignty is under multiple threat. Can it get worse?

It is no brainer that China has to be made to look inward to rein it in. It is also well-known that Tibet can tie up PRC and the PLA in knots. To do that India must take the lead. India has not done so for many reasons. Initially it was weak. Later, the post 62 trauma. Further down we made a peace from a position of weakness of with China to fend off Pakistan. Then we fooled ourselves like the rest of the world that China will play fair and square. We have now reached a stage that unless we show China its place; we are in very deep trouble. As a nation we need to stop dithering. We also need to realise that our armed forces need greater leverage to keep China at bay. The normal holier than thou supine Indian approach will not work anymore.

Sensible idiocy indicates that if we have to stand up to China as a nation our political class has to get its act together. That is primary. The Prime Minister must exhibit statesmanship to build a political consensus to take on China through Tibet. While many political parties might not agree on other reforms or the farm laws with the government, they do not have a choice in not going together to fight a national enemy at a time of dire crisis. Political parties cannot throw India’s ace of spades to the wolves anymore. Conversely, if we are to play this deck smart – now is the opportune time when the world opinion is against China. If our political leadership cannot get together, and grasp the moment, they will have failed India.

Fundamentally we need to do a double bluff on China as China has done to the world. When China was growing economically, everyone expected it to change and adhere to international norms. It repeatedly kept saying that it will not change. It has expected everyone to play by its rules. Everyone thought China was bluffing. How wrong were we! It is time to let China know that there are red cards. If it does not heed the signal, serve the red cards and force it to back off. All this will require a slow build up. It will not happen overnight. Everything need not be done immediately. It will be a long haul for India. It should be a slow bleed for China.

Strength respects strength. China respects strength. China has tested Indian strength in Doklam and in eastern Ladakh. Despite its initial, bluster and threats, it has been militarily stymied. Our military pushback has been followed by economic and digital strikes with more stonewalling in the offing. The message that India will not back off is unambiguous. Very importantly India has made some significant diplomatic moves regionally and globally. We have also said No Thank You to BRI and RCEP despite an open invitation to join the bandwagon at any time of our choosing. This is much more than anyone else has said or did to China. We just need to remember that Obama’s US blinked and looked the other way when China was building artificial islands in the South China Sea. Incidentally, China recognises that India is cocking a snook at it. An antagonistic rising power along its border is not in China’s best interest just as an aggressive one is not in ours. The Chinese diplomatic, media, political and military responses to India are far more subdued and different from earlier days. Even Global Time has toned down! Their article ‘India changes attitude toward multilateral mechanisms for its global ambition’ conveys a lot.

It is the political, diplomatic and socio cultural issues which will make China look inward in Tibet and elsewhere. Economic issues come later and military issues last. The spear head of any action against China is to show political intent. Tibet opens the path to many Chinese sensitivities: “One China’, ‘One China Two Systems’, Illegal usurpation, human rights, Religious matters, Democracy, water, environmental issues, and labour camps to mention a few. Other political issues which create cacophony are the Wuhan virus, prestigious events (like the Olympic games), negating Chinese high ticket initiatives and so on. When all these issues are questioned and suitable narratives built, the legitimacy of CCP gets questioned. It will have serious ramifications to the hyper ambitious leadership of Xi Jinping and his cohorts. They will react insensibly, make mistakes and give openings. Mutatis mutandis, the tip of the spear head will be Influence Operations. If Influence Operations commence, issues like untrustworthiness, corruption and et al will add to the weight. Alongside Influence Operations, there is a need for a good feedback system and intelligence operations. It can be done.

The Dalai Lama, the Central Tibet Authority (CTA), Tibetans and, their diaspora—all together form the centre of gravity. Together they have to dominate the hearts and minds of each other, the cities and the country side to make the Han and PRC unwelcome. They are the foci to enable networking with other instabilities and fissures in China. There are many methods and avenues to do so and not many of them have to be violent. In fact the spiritual strength of religion gives Tibetans the same power of ahimsa and satyagraha. Mobilisation of people will be the key factor. Their role in building public and world-wide opinion will be critical. They have the potential of flying under the PRC censorship radar. In the recent past India has side-lined Tibetans due to strange and myopic geopolitical calculations. Those have been proven to be false. The CTA will be the main pathway to take the issue into the guts of Tibet and beyond. A major issue of political consequence in future will be the Dalai lama succession which needs to be pre-empted with a plan.

India must adopt a ‘Needles in Haystacks’ policy. Build needles in the haystack called Tibet. Roll this haystack with other haystacks—Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Manchuria. Team up with like-minded countries to build more needles into other haystacks. Ensure these needles move between haystacks. China can keep searching for all the needles in all the haystacks while getting a continuous acupuncture. India has good access to three critical haystacks—Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang. Some needles can be sent into the mainland through religion. Others through democracy and other means. However, India cannot play this game alone. Tibet alone cannot deliver. It will take a collective effort through all instabilities to contain China. At the same time, without India and Tibet nothing can be achieved. The collective effort could be based along with US, Australia, Japan, the Quad or the EU. It is not a grand coalition against China that is needed but simple coordinated action such that all vulnerabilities are poked in the eye simultaneously.

The standard thinking is that anything related to Tibet is military action. While there will be an undeniable necessity of military action, it is not needed to be overt all the time. Gray zone hybrid actions should be considered. These activities must be in depth. Care should be taken to ensure that border areas destabilisation is avoided. If Afghanistan was the ‘Bear Trap’ for USSR, Tibet and other instabilities must be the ‘Dragon Trap’ for China. At the same time there needs to be shift in conventional thinking from being defensive in own territory to being defensive in PLA held territory. The battle field needs to be deepened into the PLA rear. A very important part of keeping India’s adversaries in check is targeting CPEC. I have always been of the opinion that CPEC is the third front of Pakistan. It should be targeted unequivocally in POK and elsewhere. After all whatever China and Pakistan are doing in Gilgit and Baltistan and the rest of POK is being done in our territory. Legally we are at full liberty to drive out intruders. We must also do everything in our capacity to stop China from undertaking environmentally destabilising projects.

The US has already appointed a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues to protect the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of Tibetans; and to press for their human rights to be respected. He is to engage Tibetan leaders and international partners and experts to address these issues. The US has enacted the Tibetan Policy and Support Act to reaffirm the right of Tibetans to choose a successor to their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. This should be built upon. India should start coordination with the US on Tibet and other issues regarding PRC as part of India-US strategic partnership. In my opinion, India and the US should be the leads in the ‘Needles in Haystacks’ policy outlined earlier. The outcomes will be significant.

Very specifically what should India do to set the ball rolling? Just give more “bhaav” (importance) to Dalai Lama and the entire Tibetan diaspora. Things will get rolling from there. Add a dash of cartography by publishing maps which exclude Tibet from PRC. If PRC can claim Arunachal Pradesh as south Tibet, based on religious issues, India must claim entire Mansarovar Lake area as western Uttarakhand. In addition international and national conferences, dialogues, academic discussions and papers questioning PRC occupation of Tibet and Mansarovar Lakes being Indian in respected national and international platforms, even if it is in an individual capacity will also help in spurring the government. India has not used the power of Bodh Gaya and the world Buddhist community. A major part of signalling will be building up ‘Tibet Specific’ conventional and non-conventional military capability. Overall, actions should speak louder than words. It will not be India which will tame the PRC and CCP but Indians who can do it. In the same breadth, it should not be the Chinese people who are the target but the diabolic Chinese system which is proving to be a threat beyond imagination to humanity. Just for information, China’s combative nationalists see a world turning their way as per a New York Times article. So let us not be blinkered. It will be a tough and long haul. So be it.

Lastly, issues highlighted in this article are not the be all and end all of thinking. In fact they are only the beginning. The methods out lined are only indicative. One can get more imaginative. The major issue is that we need to girdle up and start looking at a national reality. India should not be a chicken with closed eyes to wish the fox away.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on www.gunnersshot.com.

What should India do to set the ball rolling? Just give more “bhaav” (importance) to Dalai Lama and the entire Tibetan diaspora. Things will get rolling from there. Add a dash of cartography by publishing maps which exclude Tibet from PRC. If PRC can claim Arunachal Pradesh as south Tibet, based on religious issues, India must claim the entire Mansarovar Lake area as western Uttarakhand.

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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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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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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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