Friday, July 17, 2020

Small Arms And Atamnirbhar Indian Initiatives - The Contenders

Small Arms And The Atamnirbhar Indian Initiatives - The Contenders
The boondoggle that the Army's Small Arms scene is, it launched yet another raid on the International OEM मंडी. The spoils of this Crusade include bringing home the Arabic Caracal Sultan CAR 816 Assault Rifle, which chambers the 5.56*45 mm round. There is that अरबी घोडा, then there is this अरबी घोडा. It followed that up with a trip to the Christian-majority USA, re-ordering 72,000 SIG Sauer 716 Assault Rifle, that fires the 7.62*51 mm rounds. Atheist Soviet Union, & it's progenies, have been a consistent supplier. Acquisition reflecting the India's Secularism & Diversity. If one searches hard enough, Hindu-majority Nepal too could spring up something.
Amidst this unleashed, overseas shopping blitzkrieg, home-grown Companies are left squatting on the road, twiddling their thumb, scratching their bum,  watching the passing "Fair & Lovelies", all glum.
As we witness this inexplicable Forex outflow, the latest edition of the Raksha Anirveda Publication showcases some of the aforementioned Indian Enterprises, their offerings & grievances. A well-timed series.
The Companies detailed include the SSS Defence, PLR Systems, Jindal Defence System, Hughes Precision Manufacturing & the Kalyani Strategic Systems.
Most of these initiatives have emerged, encouraged by the GoI-effected policy changes, primarily the 2016 Make In India campaign, the 2013-initiated Defence Procurement Procedure [DPP] & increasing permissible FDI to practical level. They sought/seek to fulfil the very organic, gargantuan requirement of the myriad Indian Security Organisations. That done, leveraging India as a launchpad, they envisage scoring Export successes, estimating India's Industrial maturity & cost-effectiveness to give it a competitive edge.

The Reality is, however, anything but encouraging. A common refrain is the long-winding & complicated acquisition process, that discourage most well-intentioned Indians. Some hair-brained, half-baked acquisition process, like the Multi-Calibre Rifles extends decades back, had contenders scurrying about, only to end with "बाबाजी का ठुल्लू". Compounding their misery is the bias towards it's own Union-infested, Govt.-mangled Weapon-maker, the Ordnance Factories, when the Govt. does hold up a Make In India placard.
Small Arms - Indian Army - SSS Defence - 01
Of the Companies showcased, the Bengaluru-based SSS Defence displays the highest degree of home-grown R&D in it's solutions. The rest appears primarily as license manufacturers of established foreign entities, with indeterminate extent of imports - with no economies of scale, at present, the percentage would be quite high. The Kalyani Group, for example, has a tie-up with the ARSENAL JSCo. of Bulgaria, among others, while the PLR Systems makes licensed copies of the Israeli IWI's range. At present, it would be safe to state that these offerings are 100% Assembled In India, with middling level of Manufactured In India. Still, an infinitely better proposition than 100% Made In विदेश.
While one can take umbrage to the current Chinese spectacle unfolding  in Ladakh, to justify the buy, it, in turn, points back accusatorial fingers at the muddled, meandering, Red Tape-entangled acquisition process & "soft corner" for overseas Companies, when placing orders & the lack of foresight & planning.
Atmanirbhar, Make In India, DPP 2020, are fine examples of PR Machination & Documentation. Unless the rubber meets the road, though, that is all it would be.