An indigenous defence sector is a dream that dates to Jawaharlal Nehru’s days as prime minister. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that an indigenous defence industry was a national security objective.
What he said is true. In reality, however, it will have serious opportunity costs. To give?an example, the country has no worthwhile experience in manufacturing fighter aircraft of the kind the Indian Air Force needs. Building that capacity is bound to be financially ruinous. Such examples can be multiplied. And after more than 50 years, it remains a dream.
A much better way to ensure fighting capability and military readiness is to ensure that defence purchases are made in a transparent manner and with efficiency far greater than what is seen now. If anything, the tardy pace of defence purchases is today a bigger threat to national security than the absence of a local defence industry.