Corporatization of Ordinance Factories No Solution- Retired DGOF & Chairman OFB pens an open letter to Defence Minister

After the Trade Unions, Political Leaders, Members of Parliament, now a Retd. DGOF & Chairman of OFB K.Dwarakanath who is in his 80 plus have now come to the field supporting the demand of the 80,00 Employees of Ordnance Factories to not Corporatise the Indian Ordnance Factories. K.Dwarakanath has served the Ordnance Factories in various senior positions, such as General Manager, Member of OFB & finally retired from service as one of the effective DGOF and Chairman of OFB.

He was in the fore front while in service during the adversaries of 1962, 1965 and 1972 for producing and equipping the Indian Army with all types of equipments, Arms and Ammunitions and Troop comfort clothing items. K.Dwarakanath in his letter dtd. 16/09/2020 addressed to the Defence Minister has expressed his serious concern about the decision taken by the Government to Corporatise the Ordnance Factories. In his letter he has concluded that any proposal, however meritorious without the whole hearted agreement/acceptance of the Constituent at large can never succeed and the mutual suspicion would linger for long time. accessed a copy of the letter written by K.Dwarakanath to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The contents of his letter is reproduced here :

I am a retired officer from the Indian Ordnance Factories Service having served the prestigious organisation for over 36 years and was the Director General, Ordnance Factories and Chairman, Ordnance Factory Board at the time of my demitting office.
I have been closely observing the recent events and the Govt.’s proposal declared by the Hon’ble Finance Minister that Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) would be corporatised to make the Organisation accountable, compete with other players in the field etc.
I was pained by the hasty decision. In fact coming to a conclusion and trying to justify the conclusion through a so called report from a consultant to be appointed for the purpose, instead of discussing various options and shortlisting the best course of restructuring in the Ordnance Factory’s context would be amounting to doing disservice to the Defence efforts.

Sir, I was privileged to, during my tenure, as a part of the warriors of Ordnance Factories to fight the adversaries during 1962, 1965 and 1972 from within the perimeters Ordnance Factories through supply of the weapon systems and clothing needs in adequate quantities and to a predetermined and exacting quality standards. OFB was the pride of the country and received accolades from Apex institution of Democracy viz the Parliament, the captive customer viz the Indian Army, Hon’ble Members of the Parliament and the people at large. This is despite the Organisation being orphaned and dismembered by retaining the structure as was existing when it was under the colonial rule with the vital inputs kept outside the authority of OFB.

OFB has emancipated Unions/Associations with Federations at the appellate level and a work force with skills beyond compare and proved beyond doubt in a number competitive situations created by MOD. The middle management is carved out of persons who go through the much touted Apprentice Programme designed and conducted by OFB and blended with directly recruited Diploma holders/Degree holders with outstanding capabilities and sense of belonging.The top level management are top class qualified persons recruited through UPSC through the competitive examinations conducted by them from time to time.

There is no dearth of personnel skills and there is no shortage of managerial capability to meet any technical challenges. There are few production agencies which can match the Ordnance Factories. If you look back on time, it is unfortunate that OFB had maintained a dignified silence and allowed our performance to speak for it. Vested interests have taken advantage of this and come up with frivolous allegations which have been adequately answered by OFB in their rebuttal. Such uncalled for attacks are seasonal and subsides over a period of time. Let not such murky allegations be the basis to denigrate the organisation and come up with equally ill-conceived idea of converting OFB into a corporate as that would hammer the last nail in the coffin. Sir, if this were to happen, it would be black day in the Defence preparedness of the country.

If the solution to the so called ailments is to corporatise the organisation, then we are barking at the wrong tree. People joining the band wagon of senior retd. officers of the Indian Army to pick holes in the organization without having an iota of the genesis based on which Ordnance Factories were created, are to say the least is detrimental  to the organisation in particular and national interest at large. It impinges on the national security and that too at a time when the country is going through a critical period as far as defending the territorial integrity of the borders apart from the force majeure situations in the health sector and calamitous flooding and loss of property.

I have attached a write up which I believe would succinctly bring out the basis on which I have drawn the conclusion as under. In fact, taking forward the proposal would be totally devoid of any rationale. Instead, this would be laying the valediction of OFB and in the process destroying the only reliable source of weapon systems and clothing needs.

As mentioned elsewhere in this letter, Ordnance Factories continues to be a production agency as it was when our country was under a colonial rule and no effort was made to convert the organisation into a strong and competitive INDUSTRY. There was scarce attention shown in this direction by the ministry and therefore continue to slog and languish as a departmentally run undertaking like an Agriculture or Health ministry. Arthur Delittle’s report which is almost as old as Independent India, is collecting dust.

Consequently, OFB as a structure was dangling from both ends of its spectrum with other govt. entities with no accountability thrown in to the middle. Despite the constraints as above, OFB met the desired objectives and the purpose for which it is created, viz Defence preparedness, self-reliance and maximizing indigenization. I dare say that the performance of OFB in these fields was outstanding and compares more than favorably with other PSUs. I do not want to specifically substantiate my conclusion, as they are on Public record.
I do not know whether the prospective consultant would even assimilate the complexity of the problem. With widely varying loading pattern encountered in Ordnance Factories, conventional methods of determining the efficacy of the OFB would lead us nowhere. Nor would conventional solutions be the panacea for unorthodox capacity determination as is obtaining in strategic unit like OFB.

No organisation can boast that they are not amenable to improvement. So is Ordnance Factories. The best way of going forward is to appoint an Expert Committee which can be empowered to suggest improvements in the structure and allowed to implement the same in consultation with the Govt. I cannot think of anybody other than the experts from within the overall Defense production envelope.

I beseech you Sir to consider my plea as above. Read in conjunction with the Annexure would give an insight into the issues involved. The proposal for appointment of consultants should be indefinitely postponed.

Any proposal however meritorious, without the wholehearted agreement/acceptance of the constituents at large can never succeed and the mutual suspicion would linger for a long time. The adverse impact of such situation is obvious.

When contacted C.Srikumar General Secretary of AIDEF and asked about his views on the above letter of K.Dwarakanath, he expressed his happiness that  at least few retired officers are supporting their cause. Already, another retired senior officer Gondnale, IOFS, has registered a complaint with CVC against the appointment of a consultant. He appealed to other retired senior IOFS officers that they all should come forward and write to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister apprising them about the adverse impact  on the National Security and Defence preparedness, if Ordnance Factories are Corporatised.

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