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Bharath asked: How is it that India has woefully performed in indigenous defence manufacturing while it has excelled in space and nuclear technology?

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  • G. Balachandran replies: There were many reasons. But the primary reason was that in the space and the nuclear sector the developers and users were the same. Secondly, they could proceed at their pace. If there were delays or targets not met, there was no question of the users importing since that option was not available. Thirdly, they were not in competition with a foreign party unlike in defence where the armed forces had to contend with potential adversaries getting modern equipment through imports and an underprepared armed force is no excuse for letting down guard on national security.

    On the other hand, the developers and users in the defence sector were different. Moreover, foreign suppliers were not only there, they were also keen to sell. In the case of nuclear and space technology, there were no foreign suppliers - in fact they were barred from selling to India. Therefore, if the nuclear and the space sector did not supply in time or their programmes ran behind schedule, the country had no option but to put up with it. Finally, there engineering programmes were one-off items and not industrial programmes. But defence industry is different. It required a developed industrial base which was lacking. For all these reasons, the two sectors cannot be compared.

    Posted on September 25, 2018