The aftermath of 1971 Indo-Pakistan war had highlighted India's severe dependence on foreign suppliers for defence equipment and ammunitions. To what extent, situation has changed now? Critically examine.

Published: September 25, 2017

Indo-Pakistan war had exposed the hollowness of India dependence on import for its defence equipment which was adopted due to its small level of industrial base, low technological development and budgetary constraints.

  • Then cabinet committee on security (CCS) decided that India needed to indigenize weapon platforms, such as the main battle tanks, which were being imported, mostly from the erstwhile Soviet Union.
  • This project for development of Arjun battle tanks was delayed and bloated in cost, so far barely two of India’s 64 armoured regiments have been equipped with this tank.
  • Private sector was allowed in the defence sector 222 letters of intents and industrial licences have been issued to around 150 firms out of them only 46 firms have commenced production so far.
  • India is one of the largest importers of conventional defence equipment and spends 40 % of defence budget on capital acquisition. It imports 70% of its weapon and technology.
  • Tejas program which was started in 1989 has been delayed leading to rise in cost.
  • Inefficiency of public sector undertakings (PSUs) in defence, cumbersome procurement processes, corruption-plagued history, unrealistic technical specifications and lack of accountability have delayed the acquisition of best available technologies and opportunities for co-developments.
  • Latest Comptroller and Auditor General report has warned about shortage of ammunitions.
  • Army, Air force continue to suffer from shortage of equipments and many of which are old.

In the years, India has diversified its sources of technology and defense equipments but the process of indigenization of defense sector has been slow and inadequate to make India self-reliant.

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