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View: Defence industrial base and corporate professional responsibility – Economic Times

8 min read

By Lt Gen Anil Kapoor

Global competitiveness has always been a challenge for every country. Speaking of defence technologies and equipment, the competition gets tremendously accentuated due to the common competing space between developed and developing countries. The need to remain competitive in emerging global market is contingent upon three critical requirements – quality of product, cost effectiveness and timeliness.

For India, which is emerging as a major producer of defence technologies and equipment there is a dire need for a major drive for capacity building through a consortium approach. This calls for availability of unhindered budgets to meet the multifaceted challenges of developing infrastructure, capacities, capabilities, skills and a continuous development-operation cycle for timely delivery and regular upgradation.

The corporate sector plays a vital role in the economic development of a country, to the extent that the economy of the nation depends largely on the achievement of corporate sector. ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government, coupled with opening up of Defence Industrial Corridors, has provided a new dimension and paved the way for both indigenisation and self-reliance. In the last two decades, the private sector in defence has expanded immensely with even the DPSUs outsourcing more than 30% and Ordnance Factories (OFs) outsourcing approximately 60% of their production inventories. Defence Industries are doing direct investment in large and hi-tech projects through the provisions of Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) to include strategic partnerships, make projects and innovative developments in defence technology.

The moot question is ‘How can we fund development of technology demonstrators for defence in an optimum manner?’ There is a case for considering Corporate Professional Responsibility as a sequel to Corporate Social Responsibility.

‘Fighting Indian wars with Indian equipment’, is the mission enunciated by the COAS. This calls for a cogent technology strategy for ‘womb to tomb’ management of defence technologies and equipment. The conventional threats with inimical Northern & Western Borders, the ever increasing air space threats and the blue water Navy vision, the cyber and space dimensions call for a long term perspective of not only indigenous technology infusion but also a sustainable financial strategy.

Defence industrial bases/corridors have been a huge enabler in all nations producing defence equipment due to the huge potential in their development for self-reliance, both for internal and external security threats, proliferation through exports and dual civil-military usage. It is well known fact that all best practices of management being embraced by corporations emanated from defence. Internet and its world wide web visage has been developed by DARPA in United Nations of America, based on a need to network defence forces with operating bases beyond the frontiers of United Nations of America, popularly called as Out of Area Contingency.

Indian defence forces have been partnering the growth of Indian defence industry by means of providing support and technical assistance for understanding the user requirements and conduct of trials. On the lines of Corporate Social Responsibility, it is proposed to introduce concept of ‘Corporate Professional Responsibility’ for Indian defence industry. The Defence Procurement Procedure allows, under the Make-II, provisions to include Strategic Partnership and suo moto proposals by industry/individuals, to leverage industry participation in design development, trials and production of defence equipment.

For every project, time framed periodic milestones should be finalised at the outset and have a joint project management structure comprising defence subject matter experts (champion) of industry representives.

India has a great opportunity to change the status quo and become a key player in the global Defence Industry. The implementation of the announced policy changes coupled with a mind-set shift toward the private sector from only DPSUs will go a long way in setting the tone for the growth trajectory. To make this happen, it is important that there is a close collaboration between the Defence Force and the Industry.

The writer is Director General Information Systems, Indian Army

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any organisation of the Government of India. The publication of this article does not convey official endorsement of it’s content.

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