By Pankaj Yadav
New Delhi, Jan 18 : Private partnership in defence production is being encouraged for bringing about healthy competition, which would subsequently result in better products for the defence forces, said Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, in an exclusive interview with ANI today.
He said that now India was a big importer of defence technology, but in another ten years it would become an exporter of defence technology, especially in the neighbourhood. There was considerable interest in the missiles being manufactured in India.
He said there was a need of change in the existing model of defence production. Instead of taking a decision and making a product at the top level and then passing it on to the developing agencies, India should adopt foreign countries' model wherein private players offer different products to the defence forces, who, in turn, choose the best one.
"This is what I am trying to do in India. We must have a large base for the pyramid where we have a wide range of defence products and only the best ones get to reach to the defence ministry. As a defence production minister I have tried to broaden the base of the pyramid," said Rao Inderjit.
In a wide ranging interview, the minister said that political parties must not involve defence matters for settling scores, because past experience shows that whenever a controversy surrounded a defence deal, Armed Forces felt that they have perhaps not got the best product. "These things damage the morale of the defence forces," he added.
He said that some political parties felt exploiting defence controversies was an easier way to get to power. This was very "damaging".
Unfortunately, he pointed out that matters relating to the defence of the nation was used to attack the Central Government and derive political leverage. For example, the Bofors issue was deliberately used to change the government at the Cenrtre. "When controversies arise, issues get confused and are subjected to inquiries," he said.
Claiming that the recently promulgated Defence Procurement Manual had enabled people at the helm to fearlessly go ahead on defence deals, he said, "it was being noticed that because of fear of being subjected to unnecessary inquires, people were apprehensive about signing big defence deals. Hence, things were kept pending. By putting the Defence Procurement Manual in place, we have given them a buffer, a protection, that if they take a decision according to the manual, then nobody can raise a finger at them."
He further said that the manual has resulted in making defence procurement faster. "The base of pyramid is in the process of being enlarged. We are going to make our products which are competitive worldwide."
Rao Inderjeet said that the association of the private sector in Defence production was not going to affect the Ordnance Factories or the Public Sector Undertakings. Mostly the provision of 'offset' while acquiring armament from foreign countries was used to encourage private industries. In the longer run this would help in enlarging the base of the pyramid. So f ar, the experience has been very encouraging.