NEW DELHI: The BJP-led NDA Government on Monday gave made it clear that it would implement policies that were found to be on slippery grounds by the previous UPA Government.
It was evident in President Pranab Mukherjee’s Address to Parliament on Monday, which listed creation of National Maritime Authority (NMA), setting up of a War Memorial in the national capital, and assuring assistance to state governments in curbing communal violence and Left-wing extremism.
In the 50-pararaph speech by the President nearly 10 per cent -- four paragraphs -- was devoted to issues of national security, in which he listed the Modi Government’s focus areas for the next five years to be internal security, under which a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ to terrorism, extremism, riots and crime would be pursued.
On the defence sector, the priority would be reforms in military procurement, where the domestic industries, both public and private, would be encouraged, apart from following a ‘liberal’ foreign direct investment policy.
“Recognising the importance of coastal security, my government will set up a National Maritime Authority,” Pranab said in his address.
After the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attack, the UPA Government had made efforts to set up such an authority, by bringing in all maritime activity under one regulatory mechanism. It had also considered appointing a National Maritime Adviser, on the lines of the National Security Adviser, to head it. But the proposal did not take off, as various stake-holders in maritime activities were not in sync with the idea of a military officer heading the authority.
Mukherjee also said that “the government will maintain utmost vigil in the area of internal security. “A policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism, extremism, riots and crime will be pursued,” he said.
“A national plan will be chalked out in consultation with the state governments to effectively curb incidents of communal violence and the challenges posed by Left-wing extremism. My government will take steps to equip the security forces with latest technology to improve their working conditions,” the President said.
Laying emphasis on increased “efficiency and economy” in defence procurement, the Modi Government has also decided to encourage the domestic defence industry, including the private sector, to have a larger share in design and production of defence equipment.
“We will introduce policies to strengthen technology transfer, including through liberalised FDI in defence production,” he said.
While the Commerce Ministry has been pushing for raising the FDI limit up to 100 per cent, the previous UPA Government had dithered on taking a decision in this regard. The present 26 per cent FDI limit was formulated during the previous NDA regime under the Prime Ministerialship of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and this has stayed so for more than a decade now.
The Modi Government has already clearly indicated that there would be a favourable rethink on raising the FDI limit in the defence sector to boost the industry and thereby, the economy.
“With readily available skilled human resource, India can emerge as a global platform for defence manufacturing, including software, which will strengthen our defence and spur industrial development as well as exports,” Pranab said.
He also assured that the government would “strengthen defence preparedness by modernising our Armed Forces and addressing the shortage of manpower on priority.”
The President’s address recalled services rendered by the soldiers and retired defence personnel. “My government will do everything to repay the debt of our brave and selfless soldiers.
“It will appoint a Veterans Commission to address their grievances, so that they know that we don’t stop caring for them when they retire from active service. The government will build a National War Memorial to honour the gallantry of our soldiers. One Rank, One Pension scheme will be implemented,” he added. While the Veterans’ Commission is a new idea to take ample care of the defence personnel post-retirement, the National War Memorial is stuck over differences among various ministries such as Urban Development and Defence over its location, due to non-availability of land in Lutyen’s Delhi.
The ‘One Rank, One Pension’ policy was announced in the UPA-II’s ‘interim’ Budget in February.