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Indian armed forces need facelift

Indian armed forces need faceliftIndian armed forces need facelift
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Amid the fast-changing external equations, India needs to equip itself with a proper defence mechanism with...

Amid the fast-changing external equations, India needs to equip itself with a proper defence mechanism with great planning and care. As Modi begins his new innings, one of the biggest challenges he faces is with modernisation of the forces. This is one sector that has been neglected due to policy deficiencies over a period and lack of perspectives that should go with the modern times.

As the security scenario changes, both internally and externally and as deep challenges get thrown at us from all quarters, India needs to wake up to the vastness of this challenge. Newly appointed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be given a list of requirements of the Defence Ministry when he gets down to business in South Block soon.

According to reports, the Defence Ministry has prepared a detailed presentation for Singh in which the three services are expected to project their modernisation requirements. Among the urgent requirements likely to be projected to the new Minister include modern carbines for the Army and modernisation of the air defence and armoured corps.

The Navy, on the other hand, has been waiting for clearance of Project 75 I for progress in its Scorpene-class submarines. The acquisition is of immense importance given the Chinese influence in the crucial Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The IAF, on the other hand, is in dire need of 114 modern fighters in order to fill up for its depleting squadron strength, besides Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) to keep a check on the adversary aircraft.

It is not surprising that we are lagging behind even Pakistan in modernisation and suffer its tantrums often. The rapidly changing Chinese forces which are outracing some of the finest in the world pose a grave threat to us. A two front war cannot be ruled out due to the all-weather friendship of Pakistan and China. These two countries are like conjoined twins and suffer from several frailties that bind them even stronger.

China badly needs Pakistan's territory and cooperation for its economic activity and in turn has to protect its ally at any cost. This places us in a quizzical position and calls for rapid strides in modernisation of our forces. Reports indicate that detailed presentation has been kept ready for the new Defence Minister and the three services have listed their operational roles along with their requirements.

Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, who was supposed to retire on Friday has been given an extension for three months so that he can assist the new Defence Minister in getting started with the Ministry. The wish list of the three services includes budgetary requirements for modernisation.

What is likely to put the forces in an advantageous position is the fact that newly appointed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is well appraised about their requirements by virtue of having served as Defence Minister during her previous term. It is to be seen how much the forces will benefit, and how fast, in this tango of Rajnath-Nirmala. Of course, Amit Shah will always be linking the internal security too!

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