Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday chaired a meeting on the implementation of the recommendations of Shekatkar Committee. The meeting was attended by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the three service chiefs and top Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials.
Lt Gen (Retd) D B Shekatkar, who had headed the committee, has said implementing recommendations of the Committee of Experts (CoE) is going to be even more crucial for preparedness of the armed forces and defence ecosystem in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and its aftermath.
The then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had in mid-2016 ordered the constitution of the CoE under Lt Gen Shekatkar with a mandate to ‘suggest measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the armed forces’.
The CoE submitted its report in December 2016. Some of the recommendations have been implemented, including creation of the post of CDS and a department of military affairs. But Lt Gen Shekatkar has, in the past, expressed his displeasure saying, “While the political leadership has been positive about these reforms, the governing mechanism had been stalling.”
Ministry officials said the defence minister on Monday “reviewed the Shekatkar Committee recommendations on enhancing combat capabilities, at a high level meeting in New Delhi”.
The meeting was attended by CDS General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, along with Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, DRDO Chairman G Sathish Reddy and top MoD officials.
The defence minister reviewed the implementation of the recommendations in the past and a roadmap for further execution in future, officials said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Lt Gen Shekatkar, who is from Pune and is the Chancellor of Sikkim University, said, “The committee had made 188 recommendations, of which few have been implemented, and few more are in the pipeline. Since Mr Rajnath Singh has taken over the leadership of the ministry, he is convinced about the effectiveness of these recommendations. These review meetings are being held for further implementation of the recommendations.”
Lt Gen Shekatkar further said, “Implementation of many of its pending recommendations will be crucial for the defence forces, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Modernisation, indigenisation and reducing the reliance on imports will be even more crucial. The committee has also clearly stated in its report that various means and mechanisms of disruption and destruction of masses will be more dangerous than the weapons of mass destruction.”
Other recommendations of the committee that are already being implemented include optimisation of Signals establishments, restructuring of repair echelons, redeployment of Ordnance echelons, better utilisation of supply and transportation echelons and animal transport units, closure of military farms and Army postal establishments in peace locations, enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army, improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.
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