Sunday, January 18, 2015

Opinion- MoD, Please Don’t Rush to Please Foreign Govts!

Neelam Mathews
Jan 17, 2015 

My past writings have shown a definite leaning towards quality and efficiency of military equipment whether it be bought from home or abroad and most would agree that would stand us in good stead in time of crisis. Something India has learnt bitter lessons from.

Yes, waiting for the LCA and engines for many a project has delayed many a procurement. Now with ‘Make in India’ a slogan and the practice being adopted and implemented, one might have to revisit some clauses before we jump in to manufacture basic foreign equipment that could perhaps have its strength in India.

Take for example the US mini UAV- an agreement for manufacture that could be announced at President Obama’s visit to India with US AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven, a small hand-launched remote-controlled UAV that can fly upto 10km. One does know of a similar model designed in India by Kadet Defence Systems, SilverBee. So what makes us rush into the arms of the Americans? Also, will it not nullify the work done by the government agencies? Ask for the Predator by all means! If the ITAR could change its rules for the Raven that no longer has a market, certainly the Predator cannot be far behind! Incidentally, Kadet has also perfected to Indian conditions its aerial targets it regularly supplies to the military.
Many other examples exist. So why are we signing up for deals that do not provide added benefit to our industry and instead “to further strategic relationships,” sign dud deals? Are we not diluting India’s manufacturing capability? If you could help the automobiles sector promote Indian cars, time to do that for defense –within limitation of course. Get technology, get good hardware- nobody is disputing that. But please don’t kill enterpreunial capabilities. This will kill the passion of startups that have provided good products but just don’t have the lobbying muscle of large Indian companies that sign deals with foreign companies and copy products of their specifications? The PMO must decide.

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