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Five Things Modi Government Did to Strengthen Defence Forces

The nation is celebrating Parakram Parv, today, to mark the successful surgical strike carried to deal a heavy blow to Pakistan sponsored terrorism on the intervening night of 28-29 on September 2016. While celebrating this brave historic fete, we must also remember that surgical strike was not a one-off incident. In the past four years, continuous efforts are being made to realise the full potential of India’s increased military capability while keeping the morale of the soldiers up. The Modi government has worked on various aspects to strengthen Indian army infrastructure, defence preparedness and strategic prowess.

Let’s analyse the government initiatives in the defence sector in detail.

First Major Overhaul of the Indian Army After Independence

The overhaul of the Indian Army began when some of the recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee were accepted and work began on the same. The committee submitted its report in December 2016 and the MoD had sent 99 of its recommendations to the armed forces to design a plan of implementation. Sixty-five (65) of these recommendations, pertaining to the Army, have been approved for implementation in the first phase of reforms to be completed by December 31, 2019. The other recommendations pertain to the Air Force and the Navy.

The overhaul began when the Cabinet Committee on Security (CSS) decided to close 39 military farms in a time-bound manner. The process involves measures such as:

  • Recruiting for 57,000 posts
  • Optimisation of signal units
  • Restructuring repair and ordnance echelons,
  • Enhancing combat capability and rebalancing defence expenditure, to increase the “teeth-to-tail ratio”.
Implementing One Rank One Pension

The Modi government is the first one to implement OROP in 40 years which has boosted the morale of armed forces big time. The previous administration, without any thorough analysis, had allocated an estimated Rs 500 crore for OROP in the Budget presented in February 2014. But the reality was, to implement OROP, the estimated cost to the exchequer would have come at around Rs 8,000 to 10,000 crore and the Modi government took this step:

  • As per the reports received from the CGDA, a sum of Rs. 4,161.45 crores, Rs. 2,397.22 crore, Rs. 2,320.7 crore and Rs. 1,859.72 crore has been paid towards first, second, third and fourth instalment of OROP arrears respectively.
  • 4 lakh, 15.9 lakh, 15.7 lakh and 13.28 lakh Ex-Servicemen/family pensioners are the beneficiaries during these four instalments respectively.

Along with this, there are other measures implemented for the welfare of the ex-servicemen.

  • Number of scholarships under the Prime Minister Scholarship Scheme has been enhanced from Rs 4000 to 5500 from the academic year 2015-16.
  • Marriage Grant for daughters has been enhanced from Rs. 16,000/- to Rs. 50,000/- from April 2016.
  • A web portal has been launched by Kendriya Sainik Board on March 11, 2016, for online processing of applications.
Strengthening Procurement

A decade rule of the UPA had ended up jeopardising the military’s operational preparedness, with a near-complete halt on arms procurement, blanket bans on foreign vendors and also a winding down of defence diplomacy. But such “caution” could not prevent alleged scams, such as the AgustaWestland case. The MoD was also mired in controversy involving service chiefs.

Look how the scene has changed in the four years of NDA government.

  • India’s defence sector has been opened up to 100% FDI.
  • Entire procurement procedure has been overhauled by the current government, with the new DPP 2016 that came into effect on April 1, 2016
  • Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared several high-end and critical procurement proposals for approximately Rs 4 lakh crore within the first three years.
  • In July 2017, the army was authorised to directly make emergency purchases. Covering ammunition, spares and stores, these purchases can include artillery ammo, tank shells, and various spares for weapons systems.
  • On February 13, 2018, a mega procurement programme worth Rs 15,935 crore was cleared. It secures the following important arms and ammunition for the Indian Army:
    • 7.4 lakh Assault Rifles for the three Services
    • 5,719 Sniper Rifles for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force
    • In order to enhance the anti-submarine warfare capabilities of Indian Naval Ships, the DAC has approved the procurement of Advanced Torpedo Decoy Systems (ATDS) for the Indian Navy.
  • On September 18, 2018, Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the procurement of military armaments and weapons, including the Rs ₹9,100 crore worth Aakash missile systems. The procurement also includes a fresh design for the T-90 MBT (Main Battle Tank) and development of test apparatus for guided weapons systems, including the Individual Under Water Breathing Apparatus (IUWBA).
Critical Defence Deals with Other Countries

The following deals make it clear how the government has been fulfilling the crucial capacity gaps in terms of procurement:

  • $8.7 billion deal for 36 Rafale Aircrafts
  • $3.1-billion order for 22 Boeing AH-64E Apache Longbow attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers
  • $2 billion deal for advanced surface-to-air missile systems from Israel
  • $750-million deal for 145 ultra-light howitzers (M777) from the US
  • $720-million contract for 100 K9 VAJRA-T artillery guns.
Make in India in the Defence Sector

While achieving breakthroughs in international deals, the government made sure that Make in India gets a boost too. ‘Make in India’ in defence exists in all major defence areas — combat vehicles, combat aircraft, warships, weapons, ammunition, missiles, radars, electronic warfare systems, etc. Some of the instances are as follows:

  • INS Kalvari: India’s first ‘Make in India’ Scorpene-class submarine is commissioned into the Indian Navy. Built by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) along with France’s DCNS, the Kalvari is the first in the six Scorpene-class submarines under the Indian Navy’s Project 75.
  • Astra is India’s first indigenously developed beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile for the IAF. The successful test firing was done from a modified Sukhoi-30 combat aircraft. The ‘Make in India’ missile has been developed by DRDO.
  • Bullet-proof helmets for Indian Army: The Indian Army has got bullet-proof helmets which have been manufactured at a facility in Kanpur. MKU is making 1 lakh 58 thousand bulletproof helmets for the Indian Army.
  • Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) – In consonance with the ‘Make in India’ campaign launched by the PM Modi, the first Squadron of Tejas, an advanced multirole aircraft with state-of-art avionics was formed on 1st July 2016.
  • Apache advanced choppers for Indian Army: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared a proposal to acquire 6 Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Army. Apache, by Boeing, is said to be the world’s most advanced attack helicopter. Under ‘Make in India’, AH-64 Apache fuselages and other aerostructures are being manufactured at the Tata Boeing Aerospace joint venture facility in Hyderabad.
  • INS Khanderi: Indian Navy’s second ‘Make in India’ Scorpene-class submarine was launched in January 2017 and is currently undergoing trials
  • Hercules C-130J-30: The IAF has inducted additional six C-130J all-weather transport aircraft which is designed for Special Operations. The aircraft has proven its worth in a number of HADR operations in Nepal, Bihar and J&K. The aircraft was instrumental in the operations against ANEs at AF Station Pathankot and deployment of para-military troops in Srinagar
  • 4 lakh Assault Rifles will be “Made in India” under the category of “Buy and Make (Indian)”, via both the Ordnance Factory Board and the private sector.
  • While high-precision Sniper Rifles will be bought under “Buy Global”, the ammunition for these will be initially procured and subsequently manufactured in India.
  • In the anti-submarine warfare system, the “Mareech” system has been developed indigenously by DRDO and has successfully completed extensive trial evaluations. The “Mareech” systems will be produced by the Bharat Electronics Limited, Bengaluru, at an estimated cost of Rs 850 crore.

From filling procurement gap to boosting the morale of the soldiers, the Modi government has made an all-encompassing effort to make India enter into an era of valour. The same spirit is reflected in the celebrations of ‘Parakram Parv’.