How is Indian Government’s project – Make in India doing? Why is India still importing weapons and not creating own weapons with Make in India program? Indian Army itself rejected a Make in India Rifle for two consecutive years, how can India’s ambition to be a defence export superpower be realized?

On 26th Jan 2018, India celebrated its 69th Republic Day with full panache. The parade hosted 10 ASEAN leaders, a step towards strengthening the India-ASEAN ties. The parade also showcased Made-In-India weapons as an attempt to display India’s defence strength to the potential ASEAN buyers.

India is working towards shifting from being a defence import to defence export nation, offering Indian made weapons like the BrahMos missile system to other Asian countries. The upcoming Air Show in Singapore (where Tejas Fighter Jet will be highlighted by India) is another event where India will display its ability to be recognised as a defence export nation.

India’s Defense Export and Make in India Program Not Strong Enough

According to experts, although India boasts of a 250 billion dollars modernised military program, it is not strong enough. Additionally, the defence procurement system is extremely unorganised too. This unorganised system has made India unable to equip its own Defense forces, thus working towards being a defence export power seems like a far-fetched dream. Although the nation’s spending on the military is higher than Pakistan’s, it is still considered low as compared to China.

According to the secretary of defence production, the main problem with India becoming a defence export nation is the fact that the country continues to import most of the parts. The BrahMos missile system, India’s pride, is itself made up of more than sixty percent imported parts.

The Loopholes in the Defense Export Plan

While PM Modi hopes to become a defence export power to increase employment opportunities and reduce the cost of imports, there are many loopholes that make this ‘make-in-India’ vision blurry. The drawbacks include:

India’s prime concern has always been the price
Lack of R&D by state-owned defence contractors
Over-ambitious goals
Incompletion of projects
Inflated final price to compensate for added cost as a result of delays

Most of the equipment procured by India is managed by administrative staff who are not experts in the field. This results in poor quality of equipment. Locally made products cannot be used in sensitive border areas as they are weak in performance and quality. Although the Indian Defense forces are exceptionally well trained, the management, equipment, procurement and organization systems are weak and failing. The forces still rely on imported weapons and defence equipment. If India wants to be known as the defence export power of the world, or even Asia, it needs to regulate and strengthen many systems that work along with it.

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