Focus should be on R&D, not on import
As the threat of terror and tactical rivalry among countries is increasing drastically, most of the countries have concentrated on their defence related security capacity building. Today, defence manufacturing has become a global trend, not only for security reason but for economic growth as many developing countries are stuck in procuring defence equipments on a very high expenditure from those countries which are already dictating defence market. Earlier this defence expenditure was most vital for Western, European and south-East Asian countries owing to World War II. After Iraq war, West Asia also involved in this market and as a result of this Saudi Arab, Qatar and other Gulf countries commenced using their huge money in defence procurement. This trend was very minimal for India as it always followed the path of peace. However, due to the provocation by its neighbours -Pakistan and China- India was necessitated to Increase its defence expenditure. At present, according to the report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India is the fifth largest military spender (2016) and the largest defence importer, with 13 per cent of the total import in the world. The question arises here, despite world’s largest military spender, India is not among top 3 military powers, in terms of modern weapon and logistic. India’s defence import expenditure is three times more than China, yet china is more ahead than us. For defence equipments, India has mostly been dependent on Russia, France, the UK, the US and Israel. To acquire these defence equipments, India has to pay the highest from its exchequer. India acquired MIG group fighter planes from Russia after Sino-Indian war, Jaguar from UK, Dassault Mirage 2000 from France and Sukhoi 30 from Russia. Now India has ordered 37 Rafale fighter jet from France whose delivery will begin from 2019.
The fact of the matter is that in spite of investing more money in defence procurement, why India has to always depend on small country like Israel to protect its sovereignty. It is clearly pointing out the vulnerability of defence innovation. Take an example of HAL Tejas fighter jet; Hindustan Aeronautic Ltd. took almost three and half decade to induct it into Indian defence forces. Therefore, it is clear that India have to work more on its defence manufacturing unit. . It is absurd for our governments to give its exchequer to foreigners. They take our money and use it in their innovation and create a new product and India again acquires that product by paying highest value. Take an example of Dassault Mirage 2000, we acquired it from France, paid more price, they used our money innovated Dassault Rafale and once again we are acquiring it on high price. It does not mean that these fighter planes should not be acquired; it should be acquired because this is significant for the security of India.
If India focus more on defence innovation and less on defence import, the country could be self reliant. Countries like US, Russia, France, UK and china are earning more by selling their indigenous defence equipments\. As much money India spends on its defence Import, these countries earn by exporting defence, aviation and other equipments. Indian defence sector has a lot to learn from Indian space research organisation (ISRO), that is not only launching indigenous satellite, but also earning from foreign customer as it also launch their satellites. Owing to this it is grabbing the attention of the world in space research business.
According to Aerospace Industries Association report, in 2015, Aerospace Industries in US supported 1.7 million jobs within businesses producing end-user goods and 531,000 jobs in the industry’s commercial aerospace segment and 511,000 jobs in the defense and national security segment of the industry. It contributed approximately two percent of the nation’s employment base and 13 percent of the nation’s manufacturing employment base. It generated $300 billion in economic value, representing 1.8 percent of total nominal Gross Domestic Product in the U.S., and 10 percent of manufacturing output. It produced labor income approximately 44 percent above the national average. It provided tax receipts to federal, state and local governments from companies and their employees of $63 billion, or about 1.7 percent of total tax revenues.
Defence sector has a huge scope, where India has opportunity to make its footstep in this business. India is a respectful sovereign nation in South Asia and South East Asia, If it is manufacturing defence equipments, South Asian countries would love to be the costumer of Indian Products. Recently Singapore has shown its interest in HaL Tejas. Due to tussle between China and ASEAN nations, Vietnam, Philippines and other nations have shown their faith in India.
Indian government has taken initiative to produce indigenous defence equipments through ‘Make in India’ initiative. Government claims that it is focusing on increasing indigenous defence manufacturing and becoming self-reliant. According to the government, the opening up of the defence sector for private sector participation is helping foreign defence manufacturers enter into strategic partnerships with Indian companies and leverage opportunities in the domestic market as well as global markets. This is right that some of India’s top conglomerates like that of Gautam Adani and Anil Ambani are enthusiastic to invest in defence sector. Recently Dassault Aviation signed an agreement to manufacture Dassault Rafael with Anil Ambani’s Reliance. Talks are also going on between Gautam Adani’s Adani group and Saab to manufacture single sitter Saab Gripen. US aircraft Lockheed Martin also agreed with Tata Advanced Systems (TAS) to produce F-16 fighter planes in India.
The fact is clear that if India wants its global presence as a powerful nation, it will have to focus on Research & development and indigenous defence manufacture, because spending money on defence’s Import is a short time solution. In the era of innovation, India cannot survive on import. Defence sector has a huge scope of job creation. India can generate crores of jobs through this.
By Ravi Mishra