South Asia and Beyond

‘If You’ve Got To Stop Defence Imports, First Create Capability’

NEW DELHI: The government’s efforts to indigenise defence production is a good move but there’s the need to leverage the expertise that the country has, says Lt Gen PR Shankar (Retd), former Director General (Artillery). He was in conversation with StratNews Global Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale, where he cited the example of Dhanush gun and how the stakeholders have not been able to get their act together.

Given below is the transcript of a chunk from the interview:

There are a lot of cases where you have the technology, you have the wherewithal, production capability and you are not going ahead with it—indigenous. And if you are going to cut existing procurement cases which are at an advanced stage, you are going to have a double whammy. I will give you an example. We designed the Dhanush gun; we designed it, developed it and all that. It went through everything. For the past five years, it has not been produced. You have OFB, you have the Department of Defence Production, the MoD (Ministry of Defence), the Service (artillery) and everyone looking in different directions. And they are not able to put their act together. If you have capability and you are not using it, how can you stop an import? If you’ve got to stop an import, first create that capability.

It’s the Services that want the equipment and the government has to ensure that the Services are fully equipped. So the government and the Services will have to sit together and say, look this is what we can do and this is what we cannot do. And then run the whole programme and have a whole-of-govt approach. When you say whole-of-govt approach, there has to be accountability and responsibility. You can’t have DRDO, they have delayed the replacement for Heron for 20 years now. That can’t happen. You can’t have the OFB which has developed the Dhanush gun and can’t produce it. And this goes directly at the doorstep of the government.

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