This refers to Ajai Shukla's column "How weakness buys strength" (Broadsword, April 16). While Russia, and then China, stood up to the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation with their home-built and reverse-engineered armaments, India's military has remained trapped in a mindless exercise with every finance minister adding this line to his Budget speech: "In case our defence services need more resources, funds will not be a constraint". Using the army for quelling internal troubles, such as in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, has made the political leadership hostage to the army's preferences. The inept indigenous public sector defence industry has made the import lobby stronger. India's defence lacks both effectiveness and accountability, and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd is not the only example. The top brass is more interested in sprucing up cantonments than partnering the indigenous defence industry and educational/research and development institutions. There is no point comparing India with Israel with the latter's strong sense of patriotism, cost-effective solutions and innovations; or, with China, known for its political continuity and constant focus on strategic goals. India's engineering skill finds software, fast-moving consumer goods' marketing and financial services more rewarding than building assault rifles or mountain guns. As is often said, what gets measured gets done. India's successive prime ministers have taken more interest in making speeches at international fora and in dabbling in "reforming" foreign direct investment in the insurance and retail sectors than giving a full day every month to monitor defence production, development of flexibility and logistics, training and combat preparedness.
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