‘Indian Defence industry rich in cash but poor in vision’

By 2014, we will showcase an artillery gun made in India using our own expertise and money," said Rajinder Singh Bhatia, executive VP and CEO, Defence and Aerospace, Bharat Forge, addressing a seminar on Defence Preparedness. The forging major has been working indigenous production of an artillery gun system and has invested Rs 100 crore. In fact the announcement was made at Defexpo in Delhi in March. "We imported the gun system over 12 months back, acquired Swiss RUAG and shifted the plan to Pune. We hope the gun would be ready by 2014," he said.

He said Indian defence industry is cash-rich and has all-round capabilities, but lacks vision. No major systems are produced in India. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the US spells its mission statement to avoid any technological surprises by other countries. India lacks such vision statements. Speaking why India is one of the most sought after markets for defence equipment, Bhatia referred to a powerpoint presentation that marked America, Asia and Europe as the only 'market' for defence equipment. "Given the Chinese market is closed to the world, India remains the place where major defence systems are sold. Indian industry is not a profit driven industry, instead, it is driven by patriotism and nationalism," he said.

Captain (retired) B K Kalra, head, Production Centre, L&T Heavy Engineering spoke of projects of his company. He said an optimistic view towards indigenisation and private participation should be encouraged. Replying to a question by The Indian Express pertaining to parameters in the Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) such as No Cost No Commitment (NCNC) which discourage small and medium private industries from venturing into defence production, given the risks pertaining to recovery of cost, Kalra said, "Private industry won't die. They will align (with the bigger industries). And the good news is that DPP has been undergoing positive changes."

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