The goal of the Atmanirbhar Bharat, or self-reliant India campaign is to make India one of the biggest military powers in the world by developing a modern military industry in the country, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday as he inaugurated seven new Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs). The units have been carved out of the erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) which became defunct at the end of September.
“Atmanirbhar Bharat abhiyaan ke tahat desh ka lakshya bharat ko apne dum par duniya ki badi sainya taakat banana ka hai, bharat mein aadhunik sainya institute ke vikaas ka hai. (Under the self-reliant India campaign, country’s goal is to make India a major military power on its own, and to develop a modern military industry),” he said.
The seven new DPSUs, that commenced business from October 1, are: Munitions India Limited (MIL); Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited (AVANI); Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWE India); Troop Comforts Limited (TCL) (Troop Comfort Items); Yantra India Limited (YIL); India Optel Limited (IOL) and Gliders India Limited (GIL).
The PM said that as India entered its 75th year of Independence, the country is making “new resolutions to build a new future”.
“The decision to revamp 41 Ordnance Factories and the launch of seven new companies is a part of this resolution journey of the country. This decision was pending for the last 15-20 years…the ordnance factories, with over 150 years of experience, were once counted among the most powerful institutions in the world” .
“After Independence, we needed to upgrade these factories, adopt new age technology. But they were not given much attention, and over time, India became dependent on foreign countries for its strategic needs,” he said.
Today, he said there is “more transparency, trust, and technology driven approach in the defence sector of the country than ever before” and added that “many major reforms have happened in the defence sector”.
He urged the new companies to focus on innovation and research, saying, “you not only have to match the world’s biggest companies, but also take the lead in future technology. So, it is important that you think new, and give maximum opportunity to research oriented youth.”
Modi said that the seven new DPSUs have been given orders worth Rs 65,000 crore. All of these are indents pending with the OFB which have been converted to more accountable contracts.
Trying to placate the employees of these companies as many unions opposed the corporatisation of OFB, Modi said under the new arrangement “the talent that we have in our ordnance factories, who want to innovate, will get complete freedom to showcase their talent… With your expertise, the products that you will show by making them will not only increase the capacity of India’s defence sector, but will also remove the gap that had come after Independence.”
Speaking before Modi’s video message was played, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the idea behind corporatisation of the OFB by dividing its 41 factories among the seven new DPSUs is “to promote self-reliance in order to improve the functioning, and defence preparedness of the armed forces”. He said the “objective of this restructuring is to transform ordnance factories into productive, and profitable assets; improve expertise in the product range; increase in competitiveness; and enhance the quality and cost-efficiency”.
Need for innovation
While the goal of self-reliance in defence is noble, making these seven new DPSUs as the Atmanirbhar engine in defence will require more that just restructuring of the now defunct OFB. They would need to instill a culture of innovation to meet the needs of future, something that has eluded the existing DPSUs.
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