NEW DELHI: Ruing about the protracted process and the slow pace of modernisation of the Indian Army General MM Naravane said on Thursday that the Defence Modernisation is held hostage to focus on following procedures instead of procuring the relevant product.
Revolution in bureaucratic affairs (RBA) will realize the vision of self-reliance, said Chief.
Speaking at webinar on 25 years of Army-industry partnership, Army Chief General MM Naravane said, "We are not being able to fast track the process of acquisition. It is because we have tried to cater for every contingency and every loophole. This results is acquisition process getting tied up in knots. To that end what has happened is that the process and procedures, rather than the product, have become paramount and these are holding hostage the Defence modernisation.”
Army Chief spoke candidly on the gaps plaguing acquisition. "There are certain inherent procedural lacuna that have crept into the acquisition process which inherently arise due to the overbearing nature of our rules, regulations and guidelines in trying to ensure zero error. This is also aggravated by our own interpretation of rules."
Illustrating the point, Army Chief gave example of the Ski and Spikes to underline that at times the Qualitative Requirements (QR) we set for the equipment and the consequent overpromise it draws from the vendors complicates it further.
"Combining both is a set of QRs become undeliverable. These then require a reset from time to time when a lot of effort and resources have been spent in trying to achieve them," the Chief added.
For example, QRs were formulated for ski to be used in mountainous terrain to weigh between 2 and 5 kilos. When a vendor offered ultra-light ski weighing 1.6 kilos, it was rejected at the DAC stage. Similarly, Pungi Spikes which are essentially sharp pointed spikes. Its weight was found to be 6 kilos but it was rejected because the QR said between 3 and 5 kilos
Calling indigenous defence production as must for maintaining strategic influence and freedom of action General Naravane said revolution in bureaucratic affairs is the need of the time.
"Here I wish to underscore that in order to complement the revolution in military affairs, we also need revolution in bureaucratic affairs to realize the vision of self-reliance."
India must enhance indigenous defence capabilities to maintain strategic influence and freedom of action as external dependence for weapons creates vulnerabilities in times of crisis.
Gen Naravane talked about twin challenges of Covid-19 pandemic and the "belligerence" on the northern borders last year.
"India is now a rising regional global power in Asia, more particularly in South Asia. As we rise in our stature and influence, we will face increasingly higher security challenges," the Army chief said.
Referring to ongoing border standoff in eastern Ladakh with China, Gen Naravane said that a continuous and concerted capability building of the Army through modernisation to address the security challenges is a national imperative.
"Considering the quick pace of defence modernisation being undertaken by our adversaries, we are lagging behind slightly. Continuous and heavy dependence of Indian armed forces on equipment of foreign origin needs to be addressed through indigenous capability development," he said.
"The defence industry is a big enabler for self reliance and capability building and it is a prerequisite to maintain our strategic influence and freedom of action," the chief said