The much-vaunted ‘Make in India’ initiative for the defence sector is floundering for a variety of reasons, including lack of accountability, too many decision points, and a tendency to find fault, according to a Defence Ministry presentation.
According to sources, the presentation was made by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre for Prime Minister Narendra Modi late last year and points to staggering delays in procurement, blaming it also on a disjointed approach, lack of planning and poor coordination, among a range of other issues.
IANS could not elicit an official comment on the presentation from the Defence Ministry.
The presentation contended that, more than a year after the new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) — the guidebook on defence procurement — pushed for domestic defence manufacturing, acquisitions under the Buy and Make in India category still take the longest to fructify, while the least time is taken by the Buy Global category acquisitions.
It said the defence procurement procedure “continues to languish” because of “procedural delays” and suffered from “multiple and diffused structures” and that there was “no single-point accountability, multiple decision-heads, duplication of processes, delayed comments, delayed execution, no real-time monitoring, no project-based approach and a tendency to fault-find rather than to facilitate”.
The presentation noted that out of 144 schemes contracted during the last three financial years — since the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power — only 8-10 per cent were concluded within the stipulated time period. The average time taken by these 133 schemes was 52 months — more than twice the laid-down time-frame.
Citing an example of delay, it said once a deal is at the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage — which is a letter inviting competing vendors — the average time taken to clear files is 120 weeks — against a target of 37 weeks laid down by the ministry in 2016.
It said the armed forces continue to view the Ministry’s Acquisition Wing “as an obstacle rather than a facilitator” and pointed to the need for a “tectonic change” in mindset of the ministry’s officialdom.
The 27-point presentation, sources said, also suggested the planning task for the three services needs to be further synergised, and stressed the need for scientific models to formulate plans.
The presentation also blamed delays on factors such as repeated queries, delays in assessing vendors and submitting comments.
It also stressed that there was a tendency to accept delays, which was unacceptable.