For nearly six decades now, India’s aerospace sector had remained a hostage to political indecision, bureaucratic interference, policy paralysis and devious influence of a powerful import lobby enjoying right type of connections. Fortunately, the Indian Space programme because of the visionary leadership supported by a dedicated, talented and patriotic team of researchers and engineers could turn India into a world class space power on a shoe string budget by racing against time and a variety of hurdles.
To defeat our adversaries and to protect ourselves at times when we most need to do so, we need superior technology apart from other forms of battle winning edge. For any nation to generate operational advantage and exercise freedom of action, it should be able to operate, maintain, and refresh capabilities related to technology without being dependent on others. Obtaining such advantage that involves critical technology and equipment inevitably requires long term investment. It also involves balance of risk.
In recent times when ever people questioned me about the effects of violence in Afghanistan on India, my stock answer alluded to turbulence of any form always leading to ‘ripple effect’. So, is the turbulence in West Asia, in the form of the rise of the extreme radical group the Islamic State likely to have a ripple effect on India? Much was written on this in mid-2014 by analysts but subsequently interest has been on the wane.
‘Technologically savvy, highly experienced and a dynamic leader’- that is how we can describe Mr Robert W Davies MBE FRAeS, Managing Director, Meggitt Defence Systems (UK). In a freewheeling Q&A session with South Asia Defence Strategic Review (Defstrat), Robert spoke at length about Meggitt Defence System’s multiple objectives, its approach towards ‘Make in India’ and the technologies they intend to bring to India. Excerpts from the interview:-
The Indian Ocean provides critical maritime connectivity with over 50% of global merchant shipping which circumvents Indian shores for the Strait of Malacca. India’s geographical position astride the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal at the centre of the 56 nation Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is critical for her. Almost 90% of India’s trade and oil imports move by sea making India’s Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) her lifeline. Her Island Territories help in anchoring its security and in force projection.
Defence planning in India has been marked by knee-jerk reactions to emerging situations and haphazard single-Service growth. The absence of a clearly enunciated national security strategy, poor civil-military relations, the failure to commit funds for modernisation on a long-term basis and sub-optimal inter-service prioritisation have handicapped defence planning.
Chinese assisted port projects in the Indian Ocean countries continue unabated. After developing Gwadar in Pakistan, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Hambantota in Sri Lanka, China is now exploring Colombo, Kra Canal in Thailand and Jask in Iran as the next projects to enhance its maritime influence.
According to the Tibetan calendar he will do so on June 21, while the Gregorian or the universal calendar that is used worldwide puts the date as July 6. Much rests on his longevity for the Tibetans in Tibet and those obliged to flee their land and reside elsewhere, the largest numbers being in India, the country where the Dalai Lama first sought refuge in 1959 after fleeing Lhasa. A lot has been written on his successor when he leaves the world. It is not the intention to go into the controversy in this piece.
Technical Evaluation is a stage which follows the issue of the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). This stage is a standard procedure all over the world and is an evaluation process adopted for the selection of suppliers of goods and services and is carried out to ensure that the goods and services are able to withstand scrutiny.
Every analysis on this most significant visit is looking at the short term takeaways without analyzing the context of the visit and its strategic perspective for the future.