Seamless Procurement, R&D and Self-reliance is the Need of the Hour


One year, four editions… the journey of Raksha Anirveda has been eventful – moving ahead on the learning curve, facing its own share of challenges. All the way, persistence and patience to hold on, the constant play at the back of my mind of Robert Frost’s Miles to go before I sleep, together with the all-time favourite Bob Dylan’s The answer is blowing in the wind kept my focus and direction intact. Reflecting back, it feels nice to see that the magazine has started carving its own identity as a platform where ideas and opinions are shared freely and constructively.

The government is in the final lap of its term and very soon will be seeking support for a second term in office. So, it is an opportune time to do a quick assessment of the government’s performance purely in terms of strategic-foreign policy and defence affairs.

The strategic-foreign policy has seen a significant shift moving from a non-aligned past to an aligned one, issue-based with a focus to play a prominent role in the rule-based global order. It would be worth following in the near future how India plays its role in G20 and Indo-Pacific to realise its aspiration of becoming a leading power. With renewed focus on attaining strategic autonomy through strengthened partnership based on various situations, India is moving ahead on a new pathway where it envisions deep engagement with its friends and partners in order to checkmate and deal efficiently with its adversaries and competitions.

On the defence front, the developments made till date have been a mixed bag. There have been few achievements and many missed opportunities. The opaque policy making, lack of reforms in defence budgeting, rampant inertia in decision making with frequent shifting of poles and the sluggish pace of implementation have been a dampener that has overshadowed the positives such as a simplified participation of private sector in developing indigenous defence equipment, preference to Indian companies for revenue procurement and setting up of two defence corridors.

Self-reliance in defence manufacturing still remains a distant dream though with reforms and right intent, it seems the forward movement is on track. One hopes more clarity (buoyed by two order announcements) on strategic partnership model being implemented by the government will help in laying the foundation of a robust and collaborative ecosystems and creating a level-playing field for all. It is time to reinforce our commitments, expedite the mission mode development projects being pursued by DRDO and bring them to industrial fruitions in a fast-track mode. Now is the right time to give HAL the wings to fly on its own and reinvent itself to face the real competition. It would have been a game changer, had the government initiated a path breaking plan (backed by constitutional, legislative and administrative framework) to keep our defence procurement, R&D and self-reliance goal requirements move ahead seamlessly, irrespective of a change in government.

Before signing off, I wish all stakeholders associated with Aero India 2019 a grand success and also thank our mentors for being a pillar of strength and believing in the initiative.

Jai Hind!

Ajit Kumar Thakur
Editor & Business Director