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Modernisation of armed forces yet to acquire desired pace: Antony

Special Correspondent

‘Must eliminate procedural delays, bottlenecks in procurement procedures'


NEW DELHI: Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Wednesday underscored the slow pace of military procurement in the country, lamenting that despite the intentions and increased allocations by the government, modernisation of the armed forces was yet to acquire the desired pace.

“Modernisation of our armed Forces remains the top priority for us. However, despite our best intentions and earmarking huge budgets and allocating money, the modernisation efforts have not borne the desired results. We must continuously reduce and even eliminate procedural delays and bottlenecks in our procurement procedures,” the Minister said in his inaugural address at the ‘International Conference on Energising Indian Aerospace Industry: Achievements and Future Strategies'.

Diverse viewpoints

Aware of the diverse viewpoints on the strict offset clause in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), Mr. Antony said the discussion on the subject would be of great interest and relevance.

The DPP, which is being revised every year now, stipulates that a foreign vendor has to invest in India up to 30 per cent of the contract over above Rs.300 crore. The move is aimed at strengthening the domestic defence industry.

However, some foreign manufacturers have been pushing the idea that instead of limiting the offsets to the industry, it should be allowed to be spread across other sectors.

In an apparent reference to the argument, the Minister said that while India was willing to learn from international experience, deliberations would also provide an opportunity to remove some “undesired and needless misgivings” on it.

During the address, he also mentioned that India's efforts to strengthen its armed forces wereoften misconstrued by some nations.

New Delhi, Mr. Antony said, had a proven track record in harnessing technology for peaceful and non-violent purposes and was essentially aimed at strengthening India's defence capabilities.

Bigger responsibilities

Mr. Antony said India's impressive economic growth translated into the country having to shoulder bigger responsibilities in the strategic context, and that in the context of the emerging strategic landscape, the world would require a further strengthening of aerospace capabilities.

“Nations today grapple with similar challenges and, therefore, need to draw up coordinated responses. Keeping pace with the technology curve is a major challenge for developing nations like ours.

“Nations need to maximise cooperation through regular military exercises, weapons training and share their experiences with each other. Translated in the context of aerospace industry, it would mean enhancing military and dual-use technology that would benefit our armed forces and also have spin-off benefits for the civil populace,” Mr. Antony said.

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