Nirmala Sitharaman, the Hon’ble Minister of Defence, Government of India, took out time for a special session, as part of the 90th AGM of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).
In a candid and straight forward discussion, the Minister focused on speedy and transparent acquisitions with accountability and a clear message for the defence industry and the private sector, that this Government wants to engage with, listen and be responsive to the needs of the industry.
With military modernization being a key area of focus for the current government, the RM made it amply clear that backlog of pending acquisition cases will be cleared by end of December, 2017. The fact of the Defence Acquisition Council meeting every fortnight, creates the conditions required to be able to lay down and achieve such timelines. This should translate into the closure of long pending cases such as the as FICV (Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle)
Program. There could also be forward movement on the Single Engine Fighter Program under Chapter 7 of Defence Procurement Procedure.
Speedy conclusion of the CNC is required to cut short the timelines for placement of orders. All CNCs in progress are being closely monitored by the RM’s office.
Private sector investment and capacity created for manufacture will be given opportunity under the Buy Indian / Make Indian categories and this will gain speedy traction – which translates into the speedy clearance of the projects in this category.
Medium and Small Scale Industry. The Minister stressed on the industry, to pass on the benefits of this opportunity to the MSME Sector. The MSME sector is of extreme importance to build the right ecosystem for the Indian defence industry to grow and support our modernization efforts.
Investments made by the Private Sector Industry in defence and aerospace, is on the data pool of the Ministry of Defence. The RM assured that investments made will not go waste and prototypes will be evaluated wherever possible.
Organic growth of Industrial Clusters for Defence & Aerospace. Starting from the Eastern Corridor first, where the infra structure for Army, Navy and Air Force manufacturing is present and needs to be scaled, more such clusters are to be identified in Western and Northern Region and developed.
The RM acknowledged the support of the Prime Minister and his office in resolution of issues, that has made it easier for the MoD to move faster is disposing of cases.
The RM also opined that devolution of financial powers and decision making to the Armed Forces / Services HQ has led to simplification of the process for procurement of urgent requirements.
A major review of the Ordnance Factories is underway to make them competitive and ready for partnership and joint ventures. They may participate in ToT for Buy and Make in India.
With a proactive and clear focus, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made her intent clear to accelerate procurements and give a fillip to the indigeneous Defence Industry, and to shake and move the behemoth of MoD.
The RM’s remarks were most reassuring. However what remains to be seen is whether or not she is able to make the elephant Dance?
(Independent Consultant – Aerospace, Defence & Space, FICCI)