Modernizing forces through self-reliance

General Manoj Pande, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff, India at AIMA’s 9th National Leadership Conclave

General Manoj Pande, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff, India at AIMA’s 9th National Leadership Conclave

General Manoj Pande, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff, India emphasises the need for significant Indian Army upgrades for a robust domestic production base to assert India’s interests in disputes at AIMA’s 9th National Leadership Conclave.

I shall share my thoughts on the relevance of hard power in India’s rise and how we are shaping hard power capabilities and modernisation through self-reliance. Today the nation is charting a remarkable journey of progress and development. The overall rise of a nation can be said to occur when there is significant and continuous increase in its comprehensive national power. While economic power is the fountainhead of the growth of the nation, yet it is the military strength that lends it the ability to effect outcomes necessary.

India’s progress hinges on the augmentation of its comprehensive national power, wherein economic growth forms the bedrock, complemented by military prowess to safeguard and advance strategic interests. Ancient wisdom, as articulated by Chanakya, underscores the indispensability of both knowledge and arms for societal resilience and security.

Contemporary geopolitics underscores the enduring relevance of hard power. As articulated by Alexander Hamilton, a nation vulnerable due to weakness jeopardises its very freedom. Japan and Germany’s post-World War II experiences underscore that economic might alone is inadequate for national resurgence.

Recognising the perils of external dependency, particularly highlighted during crises like the pandemic and conflicts such as Russia-Ukraine, self-reliance in defense assumes paramount significance. Relying on others for critical technologies perpetually consigns a nation to lag behind. Hence, achieving self-sufficiency in defense technologies is imperative.

The Indian Army’s transformation agenda is multifaceted, emphasising modernisation, technology infusion, and self-reliance. Focused on a future-ready force capable of deterring and prevailing across diverse operational domains, this vision necessitates a robust modernization drive.

Modernisation efforts encompass optimising structures, embracing cutting-edge technologies, and enhancing human resource management. Of particular emphasis is promoting self-reliance through indigenous defense production, aligning with the Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) vision.

Establishing a conducive defense ecosystem entails collaboration among academia, research institutions, industry, and defense services. Government initiatives, including deregulation, incentivisation, and defense corridor establishment, lay the groundwork for a vibrant indigenous defense industry.

Leveraging emerging technologies like AI, quantum computing, and cyber, the defense industry is evolving rapidly. Over 340 indigenous defense firms are engaged in diverse projects, signalling a significant shift towards self-sufficiency. A focus on niche technologies and R&D drives innovation across warfare domains.

Key procurements reflect a holistic approach, spanning mobility, surveillance, precision fires, night vision, communication, electronic warfare, and logistics. Additionally, projects targeting mechanised warfare and aviation further bolster operational capabilities.

Moreover, prioritising 45 niche technologies underscores India’s commitment to staying ahead in the technological curve. Establishing centers of excellence and facilitating technology adoption fast-tracks the integration of cutting-edge innovations into defense systems.

In conclusion, India’s pursuit of hard power, underpinned by self-reliance, epitomises its commitment to national security and strategic autonomy. Embracing modernisation, building indigenous defense capabilities, and leveraging emerging technologies are critical steps in this transformative journey. By nurturing a robust defense ecosystem and embracing innovation, India is poised to emerge as a formidable force on the global stage.

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