President Murmu’s speech to give defence and security report card - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla

By Vikas Gupta

Defence News of India, 31 January 23

On Tuesday, President Draupadi Murmu, in line with the Constitution, will address Parliament in its first sitting of the calendar year. In this document, the president will read a speech, written for her by the government, listing its main political priorities, particularly in terms of defense and internal security.

One year after President Ram Nath Kovind’s January 31, 2022 speech, President Murmu’s speech will reveal how well the government has implemented the promises he made.

Analysis by PRS Legislative Research, a parliamentary research think tank, indicates that the government’s implementation of defense and homeland security commitments over the past year has been mixed.

The government’s first policy announcement committed to rapidly promoting the private sector and start-ups working on indigenous defense and homeland security solutions.

To this end, the Ministry of Defense notified three “Positive Indigenization Lists” between August 2020 and April 2022. These included 310 defense items, the importation of which would be gradually embargoed in accordance with increasingly tight deadlines. extended from 2020 to 2028. As each item arrived on the positive indigenization list, Indian defense industries would have the option of manufacturing it, using their own design and development capabilities or adapting technologies developed by the Defense R&D Organization (DRDO).

The Department of Defense has also identified three positive indigenization lists of subsystems/assemblies/components. Of the 1,238 items on these lists, 265 have been indigenized as of January 27, 2023.

The success of these measures, according to the Ministry of Defense, is evident in the reduction of defense imports from 46% to 36%, between 2018-19 and 2021-22.The indigenous defense production, which was Rs 84,643 crores in 2020-21, increased in 2021-22 to reach Rs 94,846 crores.

The government has also established two Defense Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, with incentives for industry, start-ups and universities. In addition, 25% of the defense R&D budget is allocated to the development of indigenous defense technologies, and a web portal called SRIJAN now facilitates the indigenization of defense equipment.

The government’s second policy announcement was to reorganize the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) into seven Defense Public Sector Enterprises (DPSU) in October 2021.

To support these new production entities, the pending withdrawals (orders) with the OFB have been converted into deemed contracts worth Rs 70,776 crore for the DPSUs for the next five years. Each year, 60% of the value of the annual delivery plan of these DPSUs would be paid to them in advance by the military.

The government’s third strategic initiative involved holding a debate on maritime security after taking over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the UNSC on enhancing maritime security on August 9, 2021. The Maritime Anti-Piracy Bill 2019 was passed in December 2022 allowing Indian authorities to act against the piracy on the high seas.

The government’s fourth strategic initiative was to launch aRs 28,000 crore Central Sector Scheme in February 2021 for industrial developmentofJammu and Kashmir.

The scheme, which aims to attract capital investment to Jammu and Kashmir, will remain in effect until 2037.As of April 2022, the government had received investment proposals worth Rs 51,000 crore.

There are four types of incentives under this program: (i) capital investment, (ii) capital interest subsidy, (iii) goods and services tax incentive and (iv) working capital interest subsidy.

The fifth government announcement is the reduction of nnumber of districts affected by Naxal in the country from 126 to 70.

The central government approved a national policy and action plan in 2015 to comprehensively tackle left-wing extremism (LWE).This envisions a strategy of security-related measures, development interventions and securing the rights and privileges of local communities. Incidents of LWE violence have decreased by 77%, from 2,213 in 2010 to 509 in 2021.

The geographic spread of LWE-related violence has decreased with only 46 districts reporting violence in 2021, compared to 96 districts in 2010.

The center provides LWE-affected states with funds for capacity building through programs such as the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Program and the Special Infrastructure Program (SIS). The SIS was approved in 2017 and in March 2022, projects worth Rs 371 crore were sanctioned for the strengthening of special forces and special intelligence branches.250 fortified police stations worth Rs 620 crore in LWE affected areas have also been sanctioned under the scheme.

The decline in the spread of LWE is also evident from the reduction in districts covered by the SRE scheme, under which states have received Rs 2,259 crore since 2014-15.