India finally wakes up to need for ammunition upgradeby Opinion Express March 5, 2019 0 comments
While a new ammunition factory to manufacture rifles for the Indian Army is welcome, its location in Amethi is likely to ruffle feathers
Events of the past few weeks have highlighted just how slow the process for acquiring new hardware for Indian soldiers, aviators and seamen is. While the MiG-21 Bison that was flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was based on a 1960’s design, the air frame itself was over 40 years old, although it had been modified after the Kargil War. The Mirage-2000 jets used to penetrate Pakistan and send a message to the terror-supporting state have been in service for over three decades and replacing these capable French fighters has been an unending struggle with several missed opportunities. The slow pace of India’s ship-building process has meant that we have commissioned less than ten new capital ships in the past decade whereas China is commissioning almost one a month. And while our special forces do not lack equipment, our regular jawans and paramilitary forces do not even have adequate bullet-proof armour. Nothing highlights India’s glacial pace of acquisition as much as replacing the inadequate INSAS (India Small Arms System) rifle. In a nation that faces threats both on its borders and inside its territory with enemies using advanced weapons thanks to the proliferation of the latter due to global conflict, the INSAS was woeful, forcing many soldiers and paramilitaries to use imported weapons, including the venerable AK-47.
Thankfully, the last item on that list is changing. After several delays, the construction of a new section at the small arms factory at Amethi in collaboration with the Russian state-owned Kalashnikov Concern will start manufacturing the new AK-203 rifle. This is not only a huge step forward for domestic manufacturing but the new weapon will finally give the Indian jawan and paramilitary officer an advantage over their enemies, both internal and external. It will also help us achieve some sort of self-sufficiency in the category of small arms and generate jobs. Since the inter-governmental agreement was signed in the shortest possible time as opposed to delays in the Rafale deal, there was little doubt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not going to lose an opportunity to take a dig or two at Congress president and the local Member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi. Like many other projects inaugurated in Amethi and Rae Bareli, this factory also sat idle for years and Modi pulled a few punches in highlighting that. Not only that, he rubbed salt into the wounds by modifying this project as a “Made in Amethi” instead of his much-touted “Make in India.” The events of the past few days have made it very clear that the forthcoming General Elections will be fought on a national security plank and there is little doubt that successive governments have dilly-dallied on this front, giving ammunition to both sides. While the new AK-203 will help the Indian soldier, it might not help the BJP shoot down Rahul Gandhi’s political ambitions. Yes, there is an emotional surge post-Pulwama, but the Modi Government is bound to face challenges surrounding the economy, joblessness and farmers’ distress when the affected voter casts his ballot. But we must celebrate the Amethi move in the right direction when it comes to hastening and improving arms acquisition. Whoever comes to power next must not stop considering our multi-pronged threats to national security.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Writer: Editor-in Chief: The Pioneer