India's Defence Policy: Covid-19 and India's Defence planning & Preparedness

26th May, 2020

Ananta Centre in co-operation with Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA organised this session on 26th May, 2020. The panel comprised of Mr Sanjay Mitra Former Defence Secretary, Government of India, Vice Adm. Shekhar Sinha, Former Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, and Commander in Chief, Western Naval Command; Dr R K Tyagi, Former Chairman, HAL; Mr Jayant D Patil, President, SIDM, Whole-Time Director, (Defence, L&T) & Member Of The Board Larsen & Toubro; Mr Subhash Chandra, Former Special Secretary, Ministry of Defence and moderated by Amb. Sujan R. Chinoy, Director General Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

The aim of the session was to discuss the various aspects of India’s defence sector during COVID-19 crisis and other defence related announcements by the government. Earlier there were three rounds of discussion with USIBC about various aspects of the draft DPP 2020 as well.
Key takeaways:

  • In the immediate future, the expenditure cuts will be evident in defence sector due to COVID-19. Due to past service, the requirement of revenue nature has already been taken care of by the respective headquarters. The idea of a separate budget for indigenous items is a little confusing because it will create extra expenditure silos.
  • It’s the time to be prepared and deter China, where India maintains that it will take active steps if China doesn’t behave as the threat perceptions haven’t changed.
  • Self-reliance is something which has been promoted in defence for a long time. Aatmanirbhar approach underlines that very strongly.
  • There must be efforts at integrating CAPEX with the new department of military affairs because of the experience in past with the earlier regimes. The problems there are that FDI through offsets and through private sector would be a major expenditure in the defence and aerospace sector. Therefore, we must also look at other issues as to why we have not been able to attract investment in metallurgy.
  • R&D must be done in the government sector and then must transferred to private sector.
  • Independent External Monitor must be introduced in Defence sector known as IEM. Every Maharatna and Navaratna company has this concept.

Towards a modern defence vision

The Ananta Centre Dialogues on Defence is a platform that brings together defence sector stakeholders to help develop a modern defence vision for the country.

Over the years, technology has opened up new theatres of conflict. Consequently, the means of defence and the demands on defensive capabilities have changed dramatically and disruptively. Countries like the US, UK, France, China and Israel are already investing heavily in non-conventional weapons, general AI and robotics. India too needs to ensure that her offensive and defensive capabilities are future-ready and future-proof.

Non partisan platform

As an independent apolitical convening body, Ananta Centre is in the unique position to facilitate this conversation by providing a nonpartisan platform for all defence sector stakeholders to come together and openly examine the various issues and challenges laying before the Indian defence sector.

The Dialogues on Defence series will focus on: India’s strategic international partnerships and joint military exercises, technology upgradation and modernization, partnering with the private sector in defense production, and rationalization of control and command structures.

Objectives of the Series

  • Creating consensus among stakeholders in the Indian defence establishment 
  • Promoting civil society engagement and track-II dialogues in the realm of defence 
  • Creating strategies to strengthen India’s offensive and defensive capabilities
  • Discussing the importance and utility of PPP in promoting indigenous defence production
  • Reviewing India’s international strategic partnerships in the field of defence and discussing ways to strengthen them
  • Assessing India’s position with regard to export control regimes
  • Exploring measures of enhancing technological capabilities in pursuit of modernization of the forces such as a focus on pragmatic training, surveillance capabilities, cyber security, aerospace technology, maritime technology and infantry technology
  • Evaluating issues and challenges faced by the deputed security forces in various regions of the country
  • Assessing offset policies and hurdles in defence procurement procedures in India
  • Reviewing and analyzing the structure and efficiency of the command hierarchy of the Indian defence establishment