South Asia and Beyond

‘This Is The Time To Reform & Transform, To Prioritise Our Needs, Build Locally’

NEW DELHI: India’s armed forces are on Mission Reform. The effort is being driven by the newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat and the Department of Military Affairs. From restructuring commands to joint logistics and seamless communication, the focus is on making the forces ready for the battlefield of the future.

In this exclusive interview with Nitin Gokhale, Editor in Chief StratNews Global, Gen Rawat covered a wide range of issues including allowing 74% FDI in defence through the automatic route. In his view, this would boost Make in India and also ensure a steady flow of technologies into areas where there is a deficit.

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

The new commands including a maritime command will help project power into the Indian Ocean, he said, even as India looks to design and manufacture weapons systems and platforms locally. Given that India’s security concerns are limited, it makes sense for the armed forces to hand-hold local industry to make arms using local technologies, labour and at lower cost.

He acknowledged that the coronavirus will impact the military’s effort to reform and transform since budgets will be constrained. But the military is looking to prioritise its acquisitions and is limiting imports. It is also looking at monetising its land bank, reducing the pension payout by extending the retirement age and tapping India’s defence attaches posted abroad to boost the sale of Indian made military equipment in the countries they are posted in.

Nitin A. Gokhale

Left to himself, Nitin A. Gokhale would rather watch films and sports matches but his day job as a media entrepreneur, communications specialist, analyst and author, leaves him little time to indulge in his primary interests. Gokhale in fact started his career in journalism in 1983 as a sports reporter. Since then he has, in the past 41 years, traversed the entire spectrum across print, broadcast and digital space. One of South Asia's leading strategic analysts, Gokhale has moved on from conventional media to become an independent media entrepreneur running three niche digital platforms—BharatShakti, StratNewsGlobal and Interstellar—besides undertaking consultancy and training workshops in communications for military institutions, corporates and individuals. Now better known for his conflict coverage and strategic analyses, Gokhale has lived and reported from India’s North-east for 23 years between 1983 and 2006, been on the ground at Kargil in the summer of 1999 and also brought us live coverage from Sri Lanka’s Eelam War IV between 2006-2009.    An alumni of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, Gokhale now writes, lectures and analyses security and strategic matters in Indo-Pacific and travels regularly to US, Europe, Australia, South and South-East Asia to take part in various seminars and conferences. Gokhale is also a popular visiting faculty at India’s Defence Services Staff College, the three war colleges, India's National Defence College, College of Defence Management and the IB’s intelligence school.