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

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Monday 30 January 2023

President Murmu’s speech to give defence and security report card

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 31st Jan 23

On Tuesday President Draupadi Murmu will, in accordance with the Constitution, address Parliament on its first sitting of the calendar year. In this, the President will read out a speech, written for her by the government, listing its major policy priorities, including in defence and internal security.

A year after then President Ram Nath Kovind’s January 31, 2022 speech, President Murmu’s speech will reveal the extent to which the government has implemented the pledges he made.

An analysis by PRS Legislative Research, a parliamentary research think tank, indicates that the government’s implementation of defence and internal security pledges over the last year has been mixed. 

The government’s first policy announcement committed to rapidly promoting private sector and start-up firms working on indigenous solutions in defence and internal security.

Towards this, the defence ministry notified three “positive indigenisation lists” between August 2020 and April 2022. These comprised 310 defence items, the import of which would be incrementally embargoed in accordance with timelines that extended from 2020 out to 2028. As each item came onto the positive indigenisation list, Indian defence industries would get the opportunity to manufacture it, using their own design and development capabilities or adapting technologies developed by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO).

The defence ministry has also identified three positive indigenisation lists of sub-systems/assemblies/components. Of the 1,238 items in these lists, 265 have been indigenised as of January 27, 2023.

The success of these measures, says the defence ministry, is evident from the reduction of defence imports from 46 per cent to 36 per cent, between 2018-19 and 2021-22.Indigenous defence production, which was Rs 84,643 crore in 2020-21, has risen in 2021-22 to Rs 94,846 crore.

The government has also established two Defence Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, with incentives for industry, start-ups, and academia. Additionally, 25 per cent of the defence R&D budget is earmarked for developing indigenous defence technology, and a web portal called SRIJAN now facilitates indigenisation of defence equipment.

The government’s second policy announcement involved reorganising the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) into seven Defence Public Sector undertakings (DPSUs) in October 2021.

To support these new production entities, the pending indents (orders) with the OFB were converted into deemed contracts worth Rs 70,776 crore for the DPSUs for the next five years. Every year, 60 per cent 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 policy initiative involved holding a debate on maritime security after taking over the chair of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

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

The government’s fourth policy initiative involved launching aRs 28,000 crore Central Sector Scheme in February 2021 for the industrial developmentofJammu and Kashmir. 

The scheme, which intends to attract capital investment into Jammu and Kashmir, will remain in force till 2037.As of April 2022, the government has received investment proposals worth Rs 51,000 crore.

There are four types of incentives under the scheme: (i) capital interest investment, (ii) capital interest subvention, (iii) goods and services tax linked incentive, and (iv) working capital interest subvention.

The government’s fifth announcement is the reduction in the number of Naxal affected districts in the country from 126 to 70.

The central government has approved a National Policy and Action Plan in 2015 to holistically address left wing extremism (LWE).This envisages a strategy of security related measures, development interventions, and ensuring the rights and entitlements of local communities. Incidents of LWE violence have reduced by 77 per cent from 2,213 in 2010, to 509 in 2021. 

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

The centre provides states affected by LWE with funds for building capacity through schemes such as the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme and the Special Infrastructure (SIS) scheme. SIS was approved in 2017, and as of March 2022, projects worth Rs 371 crore have been sanctioned for strengthening 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 spread of LWE is also evident from the reduction of districts covered under the SRE Scheme, under which states have received Rs 2,259 crore since 2014-15. 

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