Armed Forces Suffer Thanks to Decades of Political Hinderingby Opinion Express February 7, 2019 0 comments
It is the lot of a warrior that he/she knows that he/she might die in a battle, something that is understood by their families as well. However, for soldiers to die in accidents, ones that are very often preventable during peace- time, is completely unacceptable and a needless waste of human life and resources. The death of two squadron leaders of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in an accident in Bengaluru is just one such case. In the past, Indian Navy vessels have had issues while at port and old Army equipment has failed, killing many of our soldiers. A touching poem by Garima Abrol, the wife of Samir Abrol, one of the pilots killed, highlighted how Indian soldiers have to make do with painfully old equipment.
One thing that has to be laid out though is that even the most advanced armed forces in the world use old equipment. The backbone of the United States’ Air Force’s strategic bomber fleet is the B-52 that entered service in the late 1950s and the examples flying today are close to 60 years old. The US plans to keep the planes flying until 2050. This makes it obvious that even the richest countries in the world have to keep their military assets going for a really long time as equipment is very expensive, particularly in today’s era of electronic warfare and precision munition. But that does not take away the fact that much of India’s military equipment is painfully old and obsolete. There has been an inability by successive Governments to seriously acquire new hardware. It is also worth noting that India remains the world’s largest military importer with its outdated ideas of procurement as well as problems in building a proper military-industrial complex where military hardware can be manufactured in-house. India’s defence research, manufacturing and even upgradation have been woeful other than in developing missiles. The Arjun Tank and the Tejas light combat aircraft are but two examples of failure. While the Narendra Modi Government did try to promote more Indian companies under the ‘Make in India’ scheme, such a programme would always have led to accusations of corruption or favouritism and in the case of Rafale, they have. The inability of the Government to take the Opposition in confidence on the need to build indigenous military manufacturing capacity in the Indian private sector has been a major reason for the failure.
With elections nearing and the need to fund social sector schemes to alleviate poverty gaining momentum despite two well-armed neighbours and constant threats, India finds itself in a bind that few other nations do when it comes to security in the region. India has to be prepared for the eventuality of a two-front war and that needs investment in new military equipment and better management of existing resources. While affording equipment is a challenge, we cannot afford to lose lives needlessly. The next Government and the Opposition have to keep this in mind.
Writer and Courtesy: The Pioneer