An open letter to the Retired Army Generals from a Retired Defence Worker!
The Defence Civilian Employees working in the Ordnance Factories have got
highest regard and respect for our Armed Forces. It is because of their sacrifice
and service the country is safe. The Defence Civilian Employees are the fourth force
of the Defence of our country. They take utmost care when they are involved in
manufacturing in all types of Defence Equipments and Troop Comfort Items. They
know that they are not manufacturing these products not for benefiting any
Capitalists or Corporate houses.
They know that the products which they are manufacturing should be of the highest
quality and it should protect the soldier who is using the equipments and he should
be able to defend the border of the Country without any difficulty. Nobody
can challenge the commitment, devotion and duty consciousness of the Defence Worker.
However nowadays after the Government has taken a decision to Corporatize the Ordnance
Factories not to benefit the country but benefit the Corporates, some vested interested
elements including some Retired Generals who have never fought any battles nor they
have used the equipments produced by Ordnance Factories have become Defence Experts
and have started writing articles against the Ordnance Factories and its employees.
In one case, the All India Defence Employees Federation have issued a lawyer notice
for legal action against a Retired General for his mischievous and malicious
statement made in an article.
As a Retired worker I was going through these articles. All these articles are not
supported by any fact and figures. Therefore I thought of writing an open letter to
all these Generals with the hope that these Generals and other self claimed experts
will go through and if I am wrong then they should come with appropriate reply.
My dear Retired Generals
It seems the only solution; you could see is that Corporatisation of Ordnance
Factory Board. Could not you assess that:
• Lack of Technology is the main reason?
• Failure of Designer to develop technologies is another important reason?
• Inclination of Armed Forces to rush for imports may be another reason?
• Failure of Army Design Bureau to drive new innovation may be another reason?
In your vast knowledge of so many Years, why you could not identify a Private
sector Organisation for each of the 101 items and you could have told that I am here
with you. I guarantee that they are going to deliver. We would have loved that . Armed
Forces General fight, do not make such dumb statements. Have you forgotten your
valour and values?
The private Sector is sitting with more than 460 Licenses. I wish some of your retired
Folks render service to the Indian Industry rather than making such bogeys, the issue
of Self Reliance will get a better boost. Please stop blaming OFB and start doing
something. We would appreciate your actions than such empty words.
You have pointed out that India’s ordnance factories and defence public sector
undertakings (PSUs) have not exhibited the needed competence for achieving it, but the
fact is that as per DDP Dashboard and recent Draft Defence production and export
Policy Draft, they contribute to 87 % indigenous production. Just think of a situation,
had they not been there, what would have been the status of Self Reliance for the
Retd. Generals, it is easy to criticise. It is easy to make news, using your Name
Tag to make head lines. We cannot rule out vested interest when such words are
spoken in full venom after retirement. We wish you speak more logically with positive
Retd. Generals, you have said, that whenever there has been a border clash or a
major terror attack, India has resorted to emergency purchases. You never questioned
the MGO for proper planning of the equipment purchases, frequent change of GSQRs,
frequent retraction of RFPs, ? Who is responsible? Please have an introspection. You
will get the answer.
If the user is not clear about what he wants is one of the biggest problem that
the nation faces.
We will bring some performance for your sole targeted OFB:
• The Ordnance Factories since their inception more than two centuries ago have
strengthened the capacity of the State to wage war, both offensive and defensive, and
their contribution in every skirmish, battle and war has been appreciated.
• After the Kargil War, the then COAS, Gen. V.P. Malik, in the foreword to the
book “Arming the Indian Arsenal” writes:
“Indian Ordnance Factories which could produce ammunition and some equipment for
which they had the necessary technology rose to the occasion. But we faced
considerable problems in procuring items that had to be imported at short notice.”
• Further, the 42nd Report of the Standing Committee on Defence, presented on
13.03.2018, the 16th LokSabha recorded as under:
“OFB products are classic example of successful implementation of ‘Make in India’
programme initiated by the Government as almost 87% items of OFB products are
• The indigenous content of the products of the Ordnance Factories is over 90%
while for ammunition it is 97%.
• More recently the 8th Report of Standing Committee on Defence, presented on
13.03.2020, the 17th Loksabha recorded as under:
“Ordnance Factories are an integrated base for indigenous production of
Defence equipment and ammunition and form the backbone of the country’s Defence
• In addition, 25% of the revenue of the Ordnance Factories comes from products
of in-house R&D.
Retd. Generals, Can you please tell, how change of structure will bring
innovation? Just because many eminent people, many reports bring out that
Corporatiosation is the solution, does not make that wrong right , since it is a solution
that cannot pass the test of logic. Have you examined the unintended consequences ?
The solution may be worse than the remedy it may be seeking. The more you despise
OFB, the more you distance them, more will be the worries of Armed Forces. The more
you work with OFB, as Artillery has done with OFB, OFB can produce world beaters
products like Dhanush.
Retd. Generals, please stop criticising, easiest thing to do. When you go to the
root of the problem , you will find that you may have to re-examine the way Armed
Forces make GSQRs, support the Product Development, collaborate with OFB and
DPSUs, the way as a nation we work together in synergy are more important .
Retd. Generals, how can you not be precise. You have stated that splitting the
OFB into three or four segments and converting these into DPSUs seems to be the way
forward. What is this auspicious number 3 or 4. Have you got any logic for this.
If you want in right earnest autonomy to be given to OFB, it can be granted by Ministry
by various means and ways. We do not have to tell you what that means.
Corporatisation is not the best way to address all the issues that you have raised such
as autonomy, accountability and efficiency. Innovation in no way in the world has
been driven by structural solutions.
Retd. Generals, in the warfare , you must have been taught a lot about strategy?
Why you are not talking of Strategy? Is structure more important or strategy? I wish,
you present a strategy for making India Technologically a Marvel rather than passing
on the blame to OFB and DPSUs.
Let us examine the issues dispassionately and refrain from making such platitudes,
which are not going to serve anyway.
Thank you Retd. Generals, for instigating me and telling you some of the
uncomforting truth. This will serve nation better, as through debates we will get
enlightened and by crushing your biased views, the nation stands to gain more.
A Retired Defence Industrial Worker
C. Srikumar is the General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation