Atmanirbhar in Defense: an Illusion or Reality?

by the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

Now that government has suddenly woken up to the reality of being neighbors with a hostile Communist regime. The word Atmanirbhar or ‘Self Sufficient’ in English is being thrown around quite a lot. Though the general sense in the country right now is to cut all ties with China, but the reality is that this aim is much easier said than done.

We don’t have such policy in place that encourages people to start businesses. Except the IT sector, there isn’t any industry where you can actually see a growth in new businesses. From getting tax registration to getting the license, from getting business loan approved to actually starting up a shop is quite a daunting task in itself. With myriads of approvals from government agencies that often come with some extra under the table expenses, no wonder Indians in generally prefer to do a job rather than become an entrepreneur. It’s too much of a hassle to start a shop in India, let alone a factory or a research lab. The best and the brightest choose to move to far off lands where their efforts and energy can bring results.

Just look at the simple fact that 6 years since PM Modi came to power, we are still buying defense equipment from foreign countries. In wake of Galwan valley clash, Indian government went on to spend billions of dollars worth taxpayer’s money in buying helicopters, airplanes and other weaponry from foreign companies. From 1962, when we first fought with China, to the current year in 2020, we are still buying our weapons instead of manufacturing them at home. The active ingredients that we use to manufacture drugs and medicine come from China, we are completely dependent on them.

Moreover, for developing state of the art Defense infrastructure we’d need the top notch technical expertise and to get top notch expertise we need technical education system that is at par with developed countries but here again we fall flat. Except IITs and few other institutions we do not have anything good to show for in technical education. We need to scale up IIT quality education at a behemoth level so that more and more youngsters can have easy access to education that stresses on practical applications rather than passing the exam. Our youngsters unfortunately spend most of their prime in preparing for exams rather than building a robot.

From what it looks like today, we are just reacting to situation instead of acting; it’s more of a twitter babble of our leadership that has made the habit of making governance a marketing event. We need to ask ourselves some hard questions, if we desire to catch up with China. But then again, we have to start asking questions first.

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