US defence secretary Aston Carter visited India last week and discussed ways of enhancing previous defence initiatives,and signed new agreements like logistical exchange of memorandum of agreement which entails the militaries of two nations to share facilities for refuelling, supplies and spares. Various agreements which also promote Make in India initiative were also proposed.
Make in India initiative which aims to transform India in to a manufacturing hub has identified sectors which needs to be promoted. Defence is one among them. Efforts have been made on this front through earlier initiatives with US like DTTI ( Defence technology transfer initiatives) etc. But nothing seem to have taken off the board. There needs to have clarity on this front as to what exactly India wants from such initiatives.
Delay in expediting the initiatives which are already taken is another issue which needs close coordination. We need a focused approach and consistent follow up action which helps to keep the various initiatives intact. In this aspect US has more role to play than India, who’s procedures are much simpler than US.
India invested nearly 14 billion dollars in last few years as part of is defence procurements, most of which is imported. With new scheme like Make in India we need to relook about establishing close synergies among the private players and defence manufacturers who engage in defence production on either side. This is a serious challenge which should not be ignored.
Also India’s defence manufacturing capabilities need to leap frog from what where we are right now. Initiatives like DTTI simply manifest the fact that india does not have the kind of technology that it requires. However on a long run efforts should be made to ramp up R and D and improve the situation on this front.
The discourse of india’s defence story should move from Defence co production to production and codevelopment to development. Every possible effort should be made to make India self reliant. . What is necessary is a more focused policy on defence issues and efforts to make a realistic progress on this front. However India should also have all the technology at its disposal in difficult times by what so ever means at the same time it should never be complacent about collaborating on strategic issue like defence.