Modi Government repairing the damage done to the defence preparedness by an inept UPA Government
Col Karan Kharb
In a decade of scams two successive governments earned the dubious distinction of being U-turn or
dysfunctional governments. Through both its tenures, the UPA Government was either struggling to survive
No-Confidence motions or battered by scams exposed by none other than the CAG himself. Constituent partners in the coalition managed ministries and departments in a free-lance style as if these were their Party domains with scant respect to a humbled Prime Minister. In a regime that was fighting for its own survival and with no indigenous manufacturing facility for the sophisticated modern warfare requirements, the Armed Forces were left crying for making up their critical deficiencies.
By the year 2014, combat potential of the Air Force had dwindled to alarming levels with MiG 21s being obsolete. War ships and submarines of the Navy had run out of spares and maintenance kit to such dangerous
levels that it took a series of disastrous accidents forcing Admiral Joshi to resign in disgust. The Army’s case was no better either. One after the other, the Service Chiefs wrote letters to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh highlighting these alarming deficiencies. But thanks to the trail of scams and black listing of supplier companies, no replenishment arrived to make up the crucial deficiencies.
Soon after the new government came to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi entrusted two major
portfolios to Arun Jaitley – Finance and Defence with a view to ironing out
conflicts, if any, between the vital defence needs and financial provision. This arrangement did help in extinguishing inter-departmental rivalries and
synergising understanding and
cooperation among them. Subsequently, the Prime Minister brought in Manohar Parrikar who had the reputation of being a resolute achiever of results. Together they held meetings with the top military brass and undertook blitzkrieg tours of forward areas and defence installations with the Prime Minister celebrating Diwali with troops at Siachen Glacier.
Across the LoC and parts of our western border, Pakistan had been a
perpetual nuisance in pushing across its proxies to carry out terrorist activities. Whereas India’s relations with China were also far from friendly, Pakistan enjoyed China’s patronage as an ‘all weather friend’. Besides the remnants of insurgency in the North-east, the Maoist violence had spread in the hinterland states of the country often echoing its voices in universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and Jadhavpur University in Bengal. The challenges for Prime Minister were wrought with complexities. Ajit Doval – the man who is envied in the world intelligence services for his rich
experience in the field of security and negotiations – was inducted as the new National Security Advisor. This was the beginning of a new phase in India’s strategic outlook towards its relations with the neighbours. Inviting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other heads of states from the South Asian
neighbours at his swearing in ceremony was Modi’s first move in right earnest to offer goodwill, friendship and
cooperation. Even though the Foreign Secretary level meetings got derailed twice due to brazenly escalated terrorist strikes, Prime Minister Modi landed at Lahore in a goodwill surprise to greet Nawaz Sharif on his birthday. All these goodwill gestures were however ignored by Pakistan and cross border firing intensified. This time, however, as never before, India shocked Pakistan by launching lightening commando raids on the Pak Army controlled terrorist launch pads across the LoC. Cross
border firing also was retaliated with punitive bombardment causing heavy losses to the errant Pakistan Army.
The unprecedented military response, bold assertion about the Pakistan
occupied J&K and Gilgit-Baltistan
being integral part of India and an unequivocal declaration of moral and political support to the Baloch struggle marked an eloquent departure from the erstwhile indifference of India towards these issues.
Reviewing the defence procurement policy (DPP) of 2013, the government has introduced new DPP with a view to giving an impetus to the ‘Make in India’ initiative that will gradually make India self-reliant besides saving and reducing defence budget substantially without hampering operational requirements of the Armed Forces.
Some laudable anti-corruption
measures have been recently introduced to curb mal-practices in defence
procurement and terror funding. The Defence Ministry has recently
introduced a new blacklisting policy that will curb corrupt practices and initiate punitive action against indulgent companies. The Defence Acquisition Council also approved projects worth over Rs 82,000 crore for purchase of fighter
aircraft, tanks, rockets and mini drones.
(The writer writes on defence and national issues)