3 Years Of Modi Sarkar: Defence Gets Its Aim Right, But Still Far From Hitting Reforms Target
The government has fulfilled its promise to implement the long-pending onerank, one-pension scheme for over 21 lakh veterans, notwithstanding some disgruntlement over its final form.The Army also carried out surgical strikes against terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, a departure from the past. The functioning of the defence ministry has been scam-free so far.
No major `Make in India' defence project, for instance, has actually taken off till now. The proposed National Maritime Authority is nowhere on the horizon. Far-reaching measures like the “strategic partnership“ policy to boost the private sector's role in defence production, finally approved by the defence ministry last week, will take at least another year to be rolled out. The planned defence procurement organisation, in turn, will take another two years to take shape.
But, from the crucial chief of defence staff post and TriService commands to handle space, cyberspace and special operations, to bold measures required to invigorate India's moribund defence-industrial base, the “radical systemic changes“ promised by the 2014 BJP manifesto are still missing in action.
Decision-making has become faster though. Since 2014-15, initial approvals have been accorded to around 140 capital procurement projects worth over Rs 4 lakh crore, with 96 of them worth over Rs 2.5 lakh crore involving domestic production. Similarly, around 150 actual contracts worth over Rs 2 lakh crore have been inked. These include around 80 capital procurement contracts worth Rs 1.50 lakh crore inked with foreign vendors.
But there has hardly been any hike in the country's annual de country's annual defence budget. The 2017-18 defence outlay of Rs 2.74 lakh crore works out to just 1.63% of the projected GDP, the lowest since the 1962 war with China.