Indian Defense Minister Arackaparambil Kurian Antony said on Wednesday that India needed to be ‘vigilant and prepared’ and ‘quicken the pace of modernization’ of its armed forces, while pointing out, “Our neighbors are building their military capabilities at a feverish pace.”
Speaking after former President of India and Missile Man, Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam at the Field Marshal Kodandera “Kipper” Madappa Cariappa (OBE) Memorial Lecture, which kicked off the Infantry Day celebrations of the Indian Army, Antony said, “Our strategic, geopolitical situation and the compulsions of history pose unique challenges for our country. Some nations are keen to incite threats to our unity and integrity. The prevalent security environment necessitates securing our land, air and sea borders to effectively guard against traditional threats to our land borders, defending our airspace and protection of our maritime energy supply routes.”
Deviating from his prepared text, Antony said, “Controversies (in defense procurement) have been there since the eighties. As a result we lost 20 years. In a way it is a shame to our national prestige.” Pointing out that ‘India was still importing about 70 per cent’ of its defense requirements in spite of its large industrial infrastructure, he said, “Our efforts to reduce the import content of our defence requirements are not yielding the desired results. Given our economic status, this is not a very desirable state of affairs. If modernization is to be more meaningful, it must go hand-in-hand with indigenization.”
Antony said his ministry was in the process of ‘implementing a new procurement policy, which would be even more effective and quicker than the current DPP 2008 (Defense Procurement Procedure 2008)’, saying that on their own, Defense Public Sector Units (PSUs) are ‘unlikely to be able to meet all the requirements of the Armed Forces at the desired pace and within the required time-frame’. “(P)rivate industry in the defence sector too has evolved. We should leverage the strengths of both – the Defense PSUs and the private sector to achieve our objectives in the realm of defense,” he said.