Atmanirbhar Bharat: The Way Forward

Sub Title : Defining self-reliance in defence and significance of collaborative approach

Issues Details : Vol 16 Issue 1 Mar – Apr 2022

Author : Ashwani Sharma

Page No. : 39

Category : Military Affairs

: March 31, 2022

India is well seized of the need to be self-reliant in defence and has outlined a vision to this end. A laudable objective indeed. The government on its part is bringing in many enabling provisions to facilitate the process. However, we need to go about achieving this with due pragmatism. Prior to venturing on the path, it is imperative that we understand our constraints both in terms of capacity and technology prowess. This is of the essence as we cannot afford any capability voids, especially in times when the world is going through a churn in the geopolitical realm. The endeavour must be so driven that we do not end up creating any vulnerabilities.

We need to have a clear road map for indigenisation of defence products. This is imperative because technology is advancing at a very rapid pace. Hence there is a high degree of probability of knee jerk reactions  due to  information about fresh and latest technologies coming in during the course of design and development of any  product, prompting any of the stake holders to ask for changes, throwing the entire process out of gear.

We need to have strong fundamentals and utilise the immense knowledge pool of our scientists and academics to create the desired technology base. Whenever we go in for Transfer of Technology from abroad, it must be ensured that it is complete in every which way and does not leave us dependant on the OEMs abroad for the particular technology being sought. Consequent to this we must establish requisite Manufacturing Readiness Levels. This can be done by giving all the necessary incentives and help to the industry. Concomitantly we have to encourage MSMEs and Start Ups and connect them directly with the Military. Complete data of the products being launched / under R&D / still on the drawing boards of a MSME or a Start-Up should be made visible to the Military through a web portal. This will  enhance trust  among the MSMEs and Start-ups about the Services, by making issues transparent.

Defence Capability Building in the context of a rapidly emerging technologies cannot be the sole preserve of the Military. Our procedures and  procurement structures therefore need to be relooked at and technology intensive houses in the IT and cyber fields integrated into our system, keeping security aspects in mind. If we fail to do so we will be treading  the beaten path and it will be to our peril in terms of time delays and lack of required technological inputs.

We must also take a leaf out of the book of the Naval Design Directorate, who have done stellar work in contributing towards indigenisation during the past few decades. The Army Design Bureau is relatively newer but given the right direction can contribute immensely towards the Atmanirbhar effort as far as land based platforms, weapons and munitions are concerned. To achieve this, certain organisational and procedural changes will need to be implemented.

In this Special Issue, we have made an attempt to deal with the issue through a number of features. Authored by knowledgeable experts and luminaries, the feature articles make some pertinent and incisive recommendations. It is our sincere hope that every stakeholder involved in the process of Atamanirbharta in defence will find something useful in this string of articles.

India is on the threshold of achieving greatness- let the Armed Forces contribute to the endeavour.