The India-US bilateral cooperation is broad-based. Its vista is multisectoral—trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology, cyber security, high-tech, civil nuclear energy, space technology and applications, clean energy, environment, agriculture and health. The India-US Dialogue Architecture consists of a high level 2+2 dialogue and more than 50 other bilateral dialogue mechanisms. People-to-people interaction is vibrant. This partnership cuts across the political spectrum in both countries. India and the US are ‘Major Defence Partners’ with cooperation in counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing, information exchange, operational cooperation, technology, training and equipment.
Pundits have aired views on how the new Biden administration will approach the India-US relationship. As the uncertainty of who will be the next US President, plays itself out, let me put it up front. The India-US relation is strategic and will change marginally with personalities. It has been developed over two decades since the turn of the century. The early interlocutors were Jaswant Singh Minister, then External Affairs Minister, and Strobe Talbot, then Deputy Secretary of State. The trajectory of this relationship has risen with each new President. If the 21st century is all about China’s rise, the India-US strategic partnership is the ‘Enduring Global Partnership’ which can equally define this era. Leave polemics aside, focus on the realities of the relationship to get a better understanding.
The India-US strategic partnership has a deep sociological phenomenon. Brilliant and hardworking first generation Indians made the US their home and contributed to its greatness while still retaining some connect with India. Their second generation Americans of Indian descent like late Kalpana Chawla, Bobby Jindal, Kamala Harris and Nikki Hailey have gone on to become astronauts, senators, state governors, ambassadors now even a Vice President (across the political divide). Reflect. One does not find second generation Americans of Chinese or Pakistani descent in the same bracket. This phenomenon is expanding with a thriving Indian community increasing in prominence in the US. There is great depth to this relationship.
In an era where autocracies are blooming, India and the US remain the two great democracies despite all their inadequacies. The oldest democracy and the largest one are kicking alive. The recent US presidential elections and the legislative cliff-hanger in Bihar showcase resilient democracies at work. Both countries have repeatedly shown that they have the capacity to discard people, who become too big for themselves, like soiled diapers. Both countries have withstood immense hardships and adversities to rise again. These are great values to cherish.
Recent events have wrought critical changes in both countries. India, badly affected by the Virus, weathered it with a plan and is recovering. Its economy has started to chug back. Most importantly, India exorcised the Ghost of 1962 by stopping Chinese aggression in its tracks in Eastern Ladakh. If reports coming in are true, China might actually step back and vacate areas forcibly occupied by it. This will be the first time in recent Chinese history. India has embarked upon “aatmanirbharta” with this new found confidence of being able to tackle China. USA has tackled the Virus haphazardly and has suffered serious casualties. Its economy has been hit seriously. The country stands deeply polarised and divided. The last time one saw the US wracked by riots was during the Vietnam War. Things are way more serious this time. A lot of internal healing to do. Tough days ahead. The gap has narrowed between the two nations. However, this is the time to show empathy, cooperation and mutual respect rather than gloating or pontification or unwanted prescriptions towards each other.
China and Pakistan—the iron brothers—are major threats to both countries. China badly wants to displace the US as the leading power and cap India’s rise. It has unleashed a multi-domain contest, often using very questionable means to achieve global domination and a Chinese World Order. China will persist with its effort and must be countered jointly. Two decades back this was foreseen. The strategic partnership was embarked upon by de-hyphenating Pakistan from the equation. Chinese role in spreading the virus and its unwarranted expansionist aggression has incensed the public in India and the US. This will solidify the partnership. Pack-istan oh Pakistan! The most dangerous country on earth can never be ignored. The twin Towers attacks; the only attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor, mounted from Afghanistan, had Pakistani roots. Osama bin Laden was in Abbottabad not on Mars. The Afghanistan peace process will be attempted to be hijacked by Pack-istan to satisfy its addiction to strategic space. Pakistan will remain a state sponsor of terrorism with its ‘Hate India’ ideology. Pack-istan kept under control is the key to US homeland security and peace in India. CPEC is the key terrain battle to tackle China. In any calculation a degraded Pakistan must be made a millstone around China’s neck. Containment of China and Pakistan under check is of critical interest to both nations and the World at large. Other threats pale in comparison. In India there is absolute clarity on this. If some in the US see it any other way, they have blinkers on.
The Chinese Virus has taken a toll on the world and has affected people far and wide. The Virus will not get away from us for the next two to three years. The US with its research capability is on the verge of a vaccine breakthrough. India has the production capacity and the expertise in handling and eradication of pandemics. Add these two together and global leadership is back on track to aid people genuinely and wean them away from Chinese malignancy. It is an opportunity that leadership of both nations must utilise.
What Hitler and Nazis were to the last century, Xi Jinping and the CCP are to this century. All the talk of the benign rise of China is poppycock. China has a large military which it wants to modernise as the most powerful military on earth. Only Indian and US armed forces can stop its malignant march. Not alone, but together. As per a Rand Report ‘distance and geography work against the United States and largely counterbalance its military strengths, especially in scenarios around China’s immediate periphery. China’s ability to project power to more distant locations remains weak, and the United States continues to hold more decisive advantage at a distance from China’s coast’. Its ability to project power at a distance will improve with time, unless interfered with. Maintaining this condition should be the base case of ‘Chinese Containment’ for the Indo Pacific strategy. The Rand Report analyses a Sino US conflict framework. It has not factored in India. Examine the current scenario. Substantial PLA forces committed in Eastern Ladakh are fixed by India. Resultantly Chinese belligerence has been confined to its immediate periphery in the Pacific Seas. It could not venture afar. It has not been able to embark on any major offensive manoeuvre. The US, with forces available to it, has been able to contain PLA in Chinese periphery despite what is outlined in the Rand report. Conversely, presence of three US aircraft carriers in the Pacific has pressurised China to restrict its adventurism against India. To think that India needs rescuing by US forces in the Himalayas or that India has to sail into the south China Sea is naïve thought. Military synergy is not physical. It is mental and situational. The current situation has exposed many shortcomings of PLA. Most importantly China must prepare for a two front confrontation which is presently beyond its capability. This will throw spanners in Chinese military modernisation and future capabilities. If China has to be contained militarily, the USA and India need greater synergy in future. In any case this is not the latest discovery since the apple fell on Newton›s head. Indian and US Forces, have been going through extensive training programmes at individual, collective, national and international levels. There are many areas of defence cooperation which have evolved over time. If Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mongolia and Xinjiang are added to pose a joint asymmetric threat, then the Chinese fat will be on fire.
The US and India are large consuming economies. They need secure supply chains independent of China. Their economies can grow only if China is dampened. Economic containment of China hinges on success of decoupling of supply chains and squeezing its exports. China is acutely aware of this. It will do its utmost to break the decoupling process to ensure eternal dependence on China. Relocation of supply chains to BRI countries under debt to China might see relocated industry being blocked from being established, being owned by China in proxy / through investment or the relocation facility could be undermined by subterfuge so that end users will have to revert to China for supply. Hence relocation has to take place in a country which is safe from Chinese poaching and has the capacity cum scale to meet global requirements. Look where you want. The answer will be found only in India. Containment of China will be further effective if BRI is slowed down or reduced in scale. All this is possible only if the US and India anchor the Quad and form an economic and trade forum to set up alternative Infrastructure models and supply chains. If India and the US get together and make Quad a success, global economic recovery is automatic. There is also considerable scope for expansion of direct Indo US trade. The Indo US economic partnership possibilities are many. The economic partnership has the potential of providing global leadership through the Quad platform or otherwise. In turn the Quad platform has the bandwidth to get ASEAN, Pacific countries, IOR and large parts of the EU on board. Lots of scope and options. It will need focused action by both administrations.
The US and India are space and nuclear powers. They already have a civil nuclear agreement. They have potential to get their act together in space also. As it stands there is adequate cooperation between NASA and ISRO in space exploration. The frontier ahead is joint exploration of space based energy. All the efforts to get to Mars and Moon are ultimately about energy security for the next generation. In the same vein both countries would be natural partners in development of AI and robotics. More than anything, AI demands a scale of high volumes repetitively, in getting things right. Both countries have good linkages in the energy sector which needs to be boosted. Also there is tremendous scope to get into renewables for the future.
INTO THE FUTURE
The trajectory of the India-US strategic partnership has risen with time and the bandwidth has also widened. Both countries are at a historical point where they must reinvent themselves for a better future. As and when the leadership of the two great democracies sit to talk, there are far more important issues to focus upon for their respective people than the pinpricks which keep appearing in the media.
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 his blog www.gunnersshot.com.
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MOD APPROVES RS 498.8 CRORE BUDGETARY SUPPORT FOR DEFENCE INNOVATION THROUGH IDEX-DIO
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.
PASSING OUT PARADE OF TES-37 COURSE HELD AT COLLEGE OF MILITARY ENGINEERING
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.
INDIAN COAST GUARD ADDS TEETH TO ITS AVIATION ARM
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.
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.
INDIAN ARMY HANDS OVER MEDICAL EQUIPMENT TO NEPALI ARMY
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.
Defence Minister inaugurates BRO centres
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.
A LOOK AT DEFENCE MINISTRY’S 20 REFORMS IN 2020
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.
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.
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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