India's arms acquisition process needs an overhaul: report
With India becoming the world’s largest spender on military equipment, in the recent years, most of its deals have come under accusation of corruption and middlemen swindling money out of deals. A recent study by a Swedish think tank said that India had surpassed China to become the world’s largest arms importer. Despite such high-ticket weapons procurement, a latest policy paper by the Delhi-based think tank questions India’s decision making process for arms acquisition.
“A PPBES model (planning, programming, budgeting, evaluation system) has not been developed, as also an independent verification agency that validates the decision-making steps and reports independently to its highest decision making authority,” says the policy paper titled ‘Recommendations on Arms Procurement Reforms in India’.
According to an estimate, India plans $80 billion dollars for military modernisation in the next three years. The policy paper talks not just about weapons’ acquisition but also about acquisition of technology.
“Acquisition plans that are not integrated with technology plans of other government agencies lead to lack of coordination, inter-operability, logistical and financial mismanagement,” says the 34-page paper authored by defence analyst Ravindra Pal Singh.
The paper criticises the style of working of ordnance factories and says its rules and laws restrict India’s strategic potential in advanced technology production. “These rules and laws were made in the 50s when an infant India had a very low productivity threshold. These laws have not yet been liberalised,” says the paper.
It also notes that India’s policy is tangled in mandatory implementation procedures of industrial offsets that are sought by its private sector lobbies. As India has become the world’s largest arms importer, the paper suggests, “What India needs is an advanced technology investment programme for building up its R&D capabilities to participate in global supply chain in key advanced technologies.”
However, the paper also says that India’s offset policy is a generation older than those of other nations. “A consortium could be set up by clubbing the ministry of defence, the private sector defence industries, the venture capitalists, foreign technology suppliers and the academic research centres in 17 key technology areas,” the paper mentions.
• The three armed services should develop R&D laboratories and co-locate them with their major research centres that work on the operational-tactical doctrines.
• Integration of advanced engineering knowledge with combat experience is the key to technology innovation and for narrowing the technology obsolescence gap.
• The DRDO has to replace its triple-hatted model with a competitive and flexible model so as to develop strategic and major weapons systems and for acquisition of key advanced technologies.
• Defining and developing key advanced technologies acquisition and industrial integration plan.
• Military leaders trained on the basis of ‘maximal user concept’ receive tertiary training in science and engineering to become developers of new products.
Read the report.