The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony has said that modernisation of the Armed Forces is the top priority of the Government. Delivering the inaugural address to the 5th International Conference on “Energising Indian Aerospace Industry: Achievements and Future Strategies,” here today Shri Antony said that the Government has earmarked huge budget for the purpose. However, these have not borne the desired results.
Following is the text of the address delivered by Shri Antony on the occasion:
“It gives me great pleasure to join you all for an important Conference today. This combined initiative by the Centre for Air Power Studies and CII is yet another instance of the ever-growing public-private partnership, moreso in the realm of defence. The two-day brainstorming between the best security brains in the world will definitely stand our Air Force policy planners and security analysts in good stead.
Our nation has been recording an impressive economic growth. However, this steadily growing potential has also meant shouldering bigger responsibilities in the strategic context. The emerging strategic landscape the world over will require a further strengthening of aerospace capabilities and India is certainly no exception. As you endeavour to do the same, you must break-up the challenges in the aerospace sector into fragments and then join the dots and fill the gaps to form the larger picture.
Nations today grapple with similar challenges and therefore, need to draw up coordinated responses. Keeping pace with the technology curve is a major challenge for developing nations like ours. Nations need to maximise cooperation through regular military exercises, weapons training and share their experiences with each other.
Modernisation of our Armed Forces remains the top priority for us. However, despite our best intentions and earmarking huge budgets and allocating money, the modernisation efforts have not borne the desired results. We must continuously reduce and even eliminate procedural delays and bottlenecks in our procurement procedures. It is with this realisation that we have put in place a Defence Procurement Procedure that is amended every year to speed up procurement and bring in fairness and transparency to the system. The discussions on the issue of Offsets, in particular, would be of great interest and relevance. While we are willing to learn from international experience, such deliberations also give us an opportunity to remove some undesired and needless misgivings on the issue.
Our efforts at strengthening our Armed Forces are often misconstrued by some nations. India has had a proven track record in harnessing technology for peaceful and non-violent purposes and ones that are essentially aimed to strengthen our defence capabilities. Translated in the context of aerospace industry, it would mean enhancing military and dual-use technology that would benefit our Armed Forces and also have spin-off benefits for the civil populace.
The latest trends in the aerospace sector clearly show that airpower has emerged as one of the most effective resources in enhancing defence preparedness and security of any nation. Airpower increases our response capabilities and flexibility. By its very nature, aerospace power continues to be technology-driven. It is for this reason that enhancement of air power capabilities often come at high costs. Developing nations such as India need to link up our unique security concerns with modernisation that do not divorce us from the ground realities. Though we do appreciate the need for partnerships and Joint Ventures at an international level, in the final analysis, each nation cannot do without strengthening indigenous capabilities.
The spurt in Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) industry in the civil aviation sector has shown that India is fast emerging as the favoured destination for such ventures. I am sure you will certainly exchange notes during this Conference with international experts to provide a further boost to this crucial sector.
The rapid development in material technology means that the onus lies on organisations such as DRDO to devote more and more time, energy and resources to strengthen R&D efforts. These changes must be introduced in a phased, yet time-bound manner to provide state-of-the-art equipment to our military aviators and air warriors.
This Conference has eminent national and international experts who need no introduction. Their hands-on experience and proven competence means that the discussions at the Conference would be rich in content and quality. This would make this Conference of special relevance to India. I look forward to your collective inputs and outcome of the deliberations. I am sure that the Conference will achieve its objectives it set out to achieve.