Is The Russia-Ukraine War, A Warning Bell For India ?

What is in stock for the country taking route of privatization, FDI and collaboration with Foreign entities for their Defence preparedness – asks C. Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF

OPINION PIECE

Recently the Chief of Army Staff has made certain remarks in the context of War of Ukraine. The chief has emphasized the importance of manufacturing indigenous Defence Equipment. In this context www.indianpsu.com asked for the views of C. Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF, who along with the other Federations are in a battle field against the Government decision of converting the Ordnance Factories in to 7 Corporations about the impact of present crisis on India’s Defence manufacturing and also about the views expressed by the Chief of Army Staff. His reaction is given below:-

The whirlpool in which Ukraine is encompassed now is the result of over enthusiasm, unstinted faith in the countries of European Union, especially, the NATO and of course the United States of America that they will rescue them in the event of a Russian aggression without assessing its own abilities to face a war. However, in reality what we see is an entirely different story making Ukraine to mend for itself against the war unleashed by Russia, shattering the belief and faith of Ukraine that NATO and US will come to its rescue in the event of a war with Russia. Many persuasion and pleading by Ukraine for help has got no takers when needed.

This gives an interesting insight in the Indian context of Corporatization and Privatization unleashed by the present Government against the state owned Indian Ordnance Factories and other Units under DDP on the plea of bringing in foreign direct investment etc. The Ukraine saga is a reminder for us that what is in stock for the countries taking the route of Privatisation, FDI and collaboration with foreign entities for their defence preparedness.
We are afraid that in effect the decision of the Government to convert the 41 Ordnance Factories into 7 Corporations has only paved the way for disintegration of more than two hundred years old organization which stood with the Armed Forces of India in equipping them to be in readiness in war and peace.

It would be worthwhile to take note of the Chief of Army Staff’s remarks in the context of War on Ukraine “quote” We have to be ready to fight future wars with indigenous weapons. Steps towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat in defence have to be taken more urgently. Wars on future should be fought with own weapon system. “unquote”

As a responsible Trade Union which is associated with the Ordnance Factories in its growth from inception through different forums and also with deep insight in its functioning, cannot digest the contradiction in the statement of Army Chief and the actions of the Government to Corporatize these state owned Defence Industries without realizing its impact in the present and future context. It is a matter of great concern for every Indians that since most of our war machines are of Russian (USSR) origin and any breakdown in the supplies of much needed spares from Russia or countries of earlier Russian Federation would seriously affect the combat capabilities of our Armed Forces in the event of a war. This is equally applicable to the new entrance into the war chest of Indian Armed Forces i.e. the United States of America.

It is unfortunate that instead of strengthening and modernizing the age old and time tested Indian Ordnance Factories and its ever dedicated employees, the Government has sliced the 41 Factories into 7 Corporations on the plea of functional autonomy etc. with effect from 01.10.2021. However, in effect it has only brought one factory to fight against the other for its survival and make most of them to perish without any sustenance.
We are not sure whether this was the ultimate aim of the Government when they hurriedly planned the most unscientific and illogical corporatization of the Ordnance Factories. We are also afraid that this situation will be utilized by the unscrupulous elements/industrialists in the country to make gain without responsibility and allowing the country to suffer.

There is still time for the Government to reorganize the Ordnance Factories as Government entities with modernization, functional autonomy and integrate with the facilities and products developed by DRDO, so that the Government can exercise its control in the most sensitive and complicated area of Defence Production and Supplies and safeguard the interest of the nation. If the Government is still thinking that the so called Private Sector with its little knowledge in the area of defence production would supplement its requirement of modern war equipment, arms and ammunitions, we are afraid that this is a mistaken notion, which has been proved time and again in many countries around the world.

Therefore, we once again request the Government to see the writing on the horizon and the lessons from the Ukraine war and do serious thinking to restore the original status of Indian Ordnance Factories as a Government entity and equip them all the way to meet the ever changing demands of Indian Armed Forces.

Jai Hind.

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