Probable nodal body for weapons systems made in India | Latest India News
While the independent testing and certification body was contemplated in the Union budget this year, the move is a big step towards decoupling India’s private sector defense industry from the clutches of the enormous veto exerting the military bureaucracy on the hill of Raisina.
As a first major step towards “Atmanirbharta” or self-reliance, the Ministry of Defense approached the Union Cabinet to give the go-ahead for the establishment of an independent nodal coordination body to meet the requirements for testing and large-scale certification of weapon systems developed and manufactured by the Indian private sector.
While the independent testing and certification body was contemplated in the Union budget this year, the move is a big step towards decoupling India’s private sector defense industry from the clutches of the enormous veto exerting the military bureaucracy on the hill of Raisina. By portraying private companies as mere profiteers, the Indian military-industrial complex has been at the mercy of these mandarins.
The new independent authority will ensure that the private sector is not at the mercy of government laboratories and test centers to get their equipment approved for domestic sales as well as exports. With 68% of the defense capital procurement budget allocated to national industry in the coming fiscal year, it is time for the private sector to start manufacturing high-end products such as armed drones, autonomous combat vehicles, aero engines and submarines by setting up SPVs with western defense majors wishing to set up in India.
The emphasis on autonomy, repeatedly emphasized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially in the context of defense equipment, is all the more relevant today. The Russian-Ukrainian war and subsequent Western sanctions against the former reveal that India’s private sector will have to get to work, with countries around the world placing great importance on self-reliance in military equipment. With the possibility of Russia getting bogged down in Ukraine growing by the day, India’s need for spare parts and ammunition for Russian-made weapons systems is likely to disrupt supply chains, as the Moscow’s priority will be its war. And last-minute replacements or acquisitions will be expensive.
Autonomy is crucial for a country with legitimate ambitions to be part of the global high table, but the creation of a nodal testing and certification body is unlikely to herald a new era in the defense sector. Indian unless other changes are made. This must be accompanied by strong reforms in Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s departments, as India’s military establishment is like a mammoth steeped in imperial heritage and changing at its own will and pace. There is a need for a complete overhaul of military defense planning and forecasting for India to develop the latest technologies and futuristic weapon systems. It is a sobering thought that even a country like Turkey developed Bayraktar TB2 armed drones in 2014 which were put to good use by the Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 and now the Ukrainians against the Russian tanks, despite the huge military asymmetry between the two rivals. Armed drones and simulators for Apache and Chinook helicopters are areas that the private sector could offer. After Ukraine, autonomy is the only way to face an uncertain world.