[UPDATED] India's New "Defence Production Policy" Unveiled

My head still hurts from befuddlement. Defence Minister AK Antony could not explain just what in hell was new about the "Defence Production Policy" that he released today. The document, that looked more like one of those cheesy religious booklets than a policy guideline document is utterly perplexing. At least two journalists asked the Defence Minister today what in this new document was new. No answers. Sample this:

"Preference will be given to indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment. Therefore, wherever the required arms, ammunition and equipment are possible to be made by the Indian industry within the timelines required by the Services, the procurement will be made from indigenous sources."

Umm. Was this not the policy before? Conversely, was it India's policy before this document to buy from foreign sources by default?

"Government will endeavour to build up a robust indigenous defence industrial base by, proactively encouraging larger involvement of the Indian private sector in design, development and manufacture of defence equipment."

Can't fault the MoD here -- this is as honest as it gets. They didn't give two rats about the private sector before this, so now they will. Wow. Just wondering why they feel the need to enunciate this now. And now, the best one of all:

"Service Headquarters (SHQs), while laying down the qualitative requirements for defence equipment/ weapon systems/ platforms to be developed/ integrated/ made, will exercise due diligence at all times to keep in view feasibility and practicabilityof the QRs."

Ha! Ha! You have to hand it to the Defence Production department for giving it straight. As with the above two points, it's the converse that's the story -- this guideline suggests that the armed forces have never exercised "due diligence" when laying down requirements so far.

On a serious note, I'm not sure anyone (perhaps not even the folks who wrote it) fully understand what purpose it really serves. Is it a policy document? Is it a brochure to remind folks about what they already know? Is it just departmental hubris? What is it! If you really want to, read the rest of it here [.pdf].

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