Why India needs to reform its defence industry

Why is it so important for India to reform its defence industry?

Dr James Jay Carafano:

India spends a lot of money on defence, and the reality is that India does not get value for money. There are corruption issues, there are issues of the kind of systems they are buying. India should be getting a lot more bang for its buck.

How can India reconcile its long-standing relationship with Moscow while opening doors to the US and other Western countries?

Dr James Jay Carafano:

India is heavily dependent on Russian arms imports, and I don’t think that’s a healthy relationship for India primarily because in many respects Russia winds up becoming the importer of last resort. You buy things from the Russians because you can’t get them from anybody else, but many of these platforms are really not the best, and they’re certainly not the best to suit India’s needs.

And I think it’s a combination of more foreign direct investment in India, maybe spinning off some of the government industries. And also, very importantly, really having a professional India defence acquisition core that can deal with the corruption issues, that can provide the professionalism, and that will give them the opportunities to look elsewhere to get what they really need, and to get much better bang for their buck.

How will the Indian elections impact on India’s defence industry?

Dr James Jay Carafano:

Well, we’ll have to see if there’s a change in government. I think if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) actually wins we’ll have to look at the size of the BJP majority. If it’s a coalition government, Narendra Modi (the presidential candidate) might not even be the head of the government, and also it would be very, very difficult for them to make any significant reforms.

If the BJP has a very large majority, I think there will be some real opportunities there to spin off some government industries, to open up foreign direct investment in the defence sector, and more importantly to make the institutional reforms to really provide a dedicated Indian defence acquisition core.

But I think the BJP can only do those things if they have a very, very strong majority.

(photo credit:dpa)