Defence Ministry has been taking very progressive steps for facilitating servicemen, ex-servicemen or their dependents. Here is a list of few progressive steps taken by the Defence Ministry in the recent times.
Interactive web portal of Kendriya Sainik Board Secretariat launched:
The interactive portal facilitates Ex-Servicemen or dependents to submit online applications under various welfare schemes. At present, it contains website and workflow software for online submission of Prime Minister Scholarship Scheme (PMSS) for the sons and wards of Ex-Servicemen.
On this occasion the Defence Minister also unveiled the User Manual of the interactive web-portal. The portal, developed by NIC at a cost of Rs. 58.93 lakhs, will later contain workflow software for all the schemes of the Secretariat which will provide complete information about KSB secretariat, its welfare schemes and allied activities.
It will also facilitate submission of applications online for assistance by ESM/War Widows from anywhere, anytime. Besides reducing time for processing of the applications and release of assistance, considerably, it will also facilitate real time tracking of applications by ESM and give them status of their applications by SMSes or Emails.
Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme:
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in its report on implementation of Ex Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) during the year ending March, 2015 has made observations mainly relating to administration of the scheme by Central Organisation of Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (CO, ECHS), functioning of the empanelled hospitals, budgetary and manpower matters, bringing out issues such as overcharging, anomalies in submission of bills and non-adherence to Memorandum of Agreement by empanelled hospitals, short supply of medicines in Polyclinics, non-disposal of expired medicines, diversion of ECHS funds for service personnel hospitals and shortage of manpower in ECHS Polyclinics etc.
Corrective steps taken or being taken to overcome the shortcomings or deficiencies include outsourcing of pharmacy, authorisation of local chemists, enhancement of financial power of Officer in-charge of ECHS polyclinic to obviate the shortage of medicines, processing of medical bills of all 28 Regional Centres on-line as per rules, appropriate use of ECHS funds by the service hospitals, adherence to the terms and conditions of Memorandum of Agreement by the empanelled hospitals, recruitment of the manpower in ECHS polyclinics, de-duplication of ECHS smart cards etc.
Manufacturing of Defence Equipment:
Defence Ministry is also working towards manufacturing defence equipments in India under the ambitious initiative of Make In India launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Under 'Make in India' programme, the Government proposes to encourage manufacturing of defence equipment in the country through various policy initiatives which, inter-alia, include the following:
- Preference to Buy Indian, Buy and Make Indian and Make Indian categories of capital acquisition over 'Buy and Make Global' or 'Buy Global' categories in Defence Procurement Procedure.
- Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy under which Foreign Investment upto 49% is allowed through automatic route and above 49% under Government route on case-to-case basis, wherever it is likely to result in access to modern and 'state-of-art' technology in the country. The foreign investment in defence sector is further subject to industrial license under the Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951.
- Industrial licencing regime for Indian manufacturers has been liberalised and most of the components or parts or sub-systems have been taken out from the list of defence products requiring Industrial Licence. This has reduced entry barriers for new entrants in this sector, particularly small and medium enterprises.
- The initial validity of Industrial Licence has been increased from 3 years to 15 years with a provision to further extend it by 3 years on a case to case basis.
- Issues related to level-playing field between Indian vs. foreign manufacturers and public sector vs. private sector have also been addressed. These include Exchange Rate Variation (ERV) protection for Indian vendors, offset obligations in 'Buy (Global)' cases, Excise/ Custom duties on defence equipment, etc.
- Offset implementation process has been made flexible by allowing change of Indian Offset Partners (IOPs) and offset components, even in signed contracts. Foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are now not required to indicate the details of IOPs and products at the time of signing of contracts. Services as an avenue for discharge of offsets, have been re-instated.