28 October 2016
India’s armed forces have embarked on a shopping spree for modern assault rifles, body armor and helmets, providing a potential boost to global arms suppliers.
The 1.3 million-strong military is abandoning its two decade-old Indian made rifles and seeking to outfit its infantry with more up-to-date equipment, scouting for a new model on the global market for 185,000 assault rifles. The Ministry of Defence also needs to buy hundreds of thousands of helmets and tens of thousands of bullet proof vests.
The moves are part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s $250 billion push to modernize India’s armed forces, as infantry continue to face the brunt of deadly attacks in disputed border areas such as Kashmir and the north-east.
Plans to buy new equipment from overseas, however, have been held back by bureaucratic delays and the military’s desire to balance the needs of troops against efforts to have equipment built domestically under Modi’s ” Make in India” program, a key plank in his drive to boost local manufacturing.
“It’s encouraging that they’re going ahead with this, but it’s discouraging that it’s not made under ‘Make in India,’ ” said Anit Mukherjee, a former major in the Indian Army and assistant professor at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. “The fact that it took 10 years for Indians to go ahead and say, ‘we’re importing’ means the bureaucracy is still holding back modernization of the armed forces. That’s problematic.”
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 31/10/2016