The Navy does it
P Chacko Joseph is the Publisher of Frontier India Strategic and Defence, an online publication which specializes in International Strategic and Defence Affairs
The Kargil episode showed the will of young Indian soldiers to fight and win a war.
But it also exposed the paralysis of the military leadership. An estimated 700,000 Indian Army personnel were deployed in mountainous Kashmir, and they did not have enough high altitude clothing.
The army leadership has of late been complaining about almost everything around it, including the intelligence agencies, the Defence Research & Development Organisation, the ordinance factories, the lack of skilled manpower.
Yet when it comes to indigenisation of critical weapons and equipment, the army leadership drags its feet. The import of this high value equipment puts considerable strain on our foreign exchange reserves. It also involves the lucrative arms market, where abnormal influences exist.
The neglect of the Indian Defence forces throughout 1980`s and early 1990`s has taken its toll on the equipment needs of armed forces in general. The Cinderella sister, the Indian Navy (IN) took this opportunity to develop, design and build Indian warships with as much indigenous content as possible.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we saw the Navy scrambling to build indigenous and ingenious capacities to keep their Soviet ship content afloat. In fact the Indian Navy design house was so ambitious that it wanted to build an aircraft carrier, but this was not backed up by the weak governments which rule the nation. .
The Indian Army, on the other hand, made a mess of most of their indigenous projects. Unlike the Navy, the huge engineering manpower of the Army failed to innovate. Which is why today, while the Indian Navy flaunts its homegrown ships, the Army proudly displays imported weaponry for the parade on Rajpath.
Image: An Indian Navy frigate takes position during Malabar 2007, an exercise involving warships from the US, Australia, India, Japan, and the Republic of Singapore. Malabar 2007 was aimed at increasing interoperability among the navies and to develop common procedures for maritime security operations. A US Navy photo.