A Welcome Change in India’s Strategic Doctrine


A transformational shift in India’s strategic doctrine is now evident. From a non-aligned nation to a multi-aligned nation, the change seems to be more pragmatic and relevant amid ever changing global order. Two recent developments – the successful 2+2 dialogue between India and US that provided new openings to futuristic and fruitful Indo-US defence cooperation and the India-Russia summit that witnessed a new narrative being written in Indo-Russian defence partnership with the signing of the purchase deal for S-400 missile systems despite the much talked US sanction threats; clearly testify it.

The way defence and security issues have hogged the limelight due to the controversy around Rafale deal; it seems that the high decibel drama and the perception battle will continue on the political front. And in between, the real intent to enhance defence preparedness speedily has gone for a toss. It is at downfall, if not at the lowest ebb, at the moment, which requires immediate remedy by discarding the continuous display of bragging and ostrich syndrome.

It’s an irony that even though, we are the third largest defence weapon market and the second largest importer of weapons; we are unable to visualise our short and long term requirement and procure the best options available at our own terms. Moreover, we are in the select group of nations having cutting edge space capabilities, yet we are unable to build indigenous fighter aircraft.

Why? The answer lies in our own shortcoming to overcome myopic vision and lack of consensus in decision making. As a result even after several decades; we are still left in the lurch.
The Make in India initiative to achieve self reliance hasn’t yielded the desired results at the ground level and has merely been a headline grabber. The indigenous defence manufacturers, in particular SMEs, MSMEs are a disillusioned lot as the steady flow of orders from the government is lacking. Add to this, being risk averse and often getting trapped to find solutions through imports.

The uncertainty hovering around FICV with no forward movement even after a decade, the near certain abandonment of BMS due to high cost factor and the curious case of assault rifles and ammunition clearly indicate towards the shallowness of Make in India initiative.

Recently, Prime Minister Modi talked about the cooperative model and replicating it in defence sector can be a game changer. It can be a righteous solution. The effective implementation of cooperative model demands – collective decision with consensus, collective inputs based on skills and expertise and collective responsibility for both success and failures to realise the objective of equitable distribution of the benefits. It needs to be discussed at length and analyse its feasibility for implementation.

The future challenges are aplenty and finding quick fix solutions towards fulfilment of defence combat readiness require innovative, out of the box thinking taking all stakeholders on board with openness. So far, the decision making in defence procurement have moved either at a snail pace or have remained almost static. Overall, a pathetic and frustrating scenario. Taking a straight forward course to transform the long life cycle of decision making into a short one without compromising the technical and technological aspects require serious deliberation.

Hopefully it will happen, either under situational compulsion or through sincere willingness.

With best wishes…

Ajit Kumar Thakur
Editor & Business Director