Stung by the alleged scam in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal, the defence ministry is now busy tweaking the defence procurement policy that it hopes to unveil in mid-April this year.
In what is described as a paradigm shift, the defence ministry is working on indigenisation of equipment, creation of a permanent body of professionals to select the right vendors, bringing in continuity, transparency and accountability in defence procurement.
The report of the Task Force on Defence Modernisation and Self Reliance headed by Ravindra Gupta, a former defence production secretary, is being taken as a starting point to rewrite the rules and guidelines for India's huge defence equipment requirement, defence ministry sources have told rediff.com.
Among the major changes envisaged in the new policy are:
- Complete indigenisation of manufacturing
- Increased involvement of Indian private sector
- Purchase from foreign vendors only a last option
- No preferred treatment to defence PSUs
The policy being rewritten by the acquisition wing of the defence ministry, will be first approved by the Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister A K Antony and then taken to the Cabinet Committee on Security for final clearance.
Antony, on whose watch India has blacklisted more than half a dozen international arms manufacturers, is clear that only total self-reliance will make Indian arms market corruption-free.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha last week, he said: "The ultimate solution to the scourge of corruption in defence deals is indigenisation... because of the operational necessity of the services, on the request that they need the most modern equipment to meet the operational necessity, the government moves to import any high value equipment from foreign sources... But now the government is giving topmost priority to indigenisation...within a few months, we are going to change the defence procurement procedure again...in that, we will give more priority to indigenisation so that Indian public sector and private sector can play a major role in producing state-of-the-art equipment for the Indian forces."
The minister went on to promise that the defence procurement procedure was going to change. He said the government had to import defence equipment because the services required the most modern equipment to meet their operational necessity.
“Because of the operational necessity of the services, on the request that they need the most modern equipment to meet the operational necessity, the government moves to import any high-value equipment from foreign sources,” Antony said.