The powers that be, the Defence Forces and the lay public are all unable to answer as to why Sates arm themselves as they do right from the time of the evolution of the modern State system. In this book, the problem is traced back to the earliest phase of human civilisation. In common parlance the reason seems to be survival of the fittest, that is, well-armed. Today the foundations of States seem to be shaken by the onslaught of globalisation. The two forces of globalisation and armament seem unable to co-exist with each other. The actions of each country in pursuit of its own national security concerns have frequently clashed with other countries to result in a war or some other form of conflict.
Since the State arms itself for the sake of national security with an eye to survive in an anarchic environment, armament becomes an ‘irreducible minimum’ requirement, which either translates into what is called the ‘arms race’ vis-à-vis a neighbouring enemy or a group of Sates away from its national boundaries, in case of a global power struggle scenario. Thus it goes without saying that armament or the armaments race, emanating especially from the West, is a result of the never-ending quest for national security. This in many cases results in an ‘action-reaction’ syndrome, “leading countries to engage in a web of perpetual insecurity,” says the author.
The universe of ‘armament’ constitutes a major component of military power which helps a State to maximise its national power. The key components of this are armed forces, military technology, military production, economic resources, political will and strategic considerations of security. So it is against this backdrop that a study of the Indian defence industry becomes important, feels the author. This is corroborated by the words of General V.P.Malik, Former Chief of Army Staff, who said the Kargil war highlighted once again that “self-sufficiency in defence weapons and equipment is an important strategic requirement.” After 60 years of Independence, India’s public sector defence industry has not been able to come up to expectations and meet its minimum military requirements. As seen in this war, it was not only the vintage but deficiencies of weapons, equipment, ammunition and lack of spares that worried the Armed Forces. Again General Malik had admitted that there were hardly any force multipliers. “Most of our small arms were without passive night sights and thus were a disadvantage for assaulting the troops. There were no laser range finders for medium machine-guns or mortars. Signal communications equipment at unit level was outdated, in short supply and with insufficient secrecy equipment. What we missed most were weapon-locating radars to engage the Pakistani artillery and mortars effectively,” said General Malik. Against this background, a study of this book becomes highly relevant, forcing us to build up our arms arsenal with modern technologies.
To present in brief, the author, in Chapter 1, starts with the argument that the global defence industry offers a set of challenges as well as opportunities for the Indian defence industry. In order to locate the problem, it is necessary to understand the historical circumstances in which the Indian defence industry started evolving. It was national security considerations that influenced the decision to develop the defence industry along with some sense of power ambition in this national effort. Chapter 2 analyses this and the nature of interactions between various bureaucratic and organisational factors in the development of the defence industry. Chapter 3 examines the interesting phase of the development of the Indian defence production sector and concludes that the desire for initiating reforms could be located in the “global transition in defence industry”. The Indian defence industry finally started witnessing a period of ‘reform initiatives’’ – that promised far-reaching changes, since the early years of the 21st century and this is explained in Chapter 4.
In the final analysis, the author advocates a multi-disciplinary approach to study the universe of defence production in India. In short, he offers some policy prescriptions in the field of defence production while striving to fill the gap between specialised and conceptual understanding of the problem of defence production in India.
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