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Challenges galore for India’s full time Defence Minister

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Dear Friends,

Fifteen days since our crib got  over. India now has not only a full time Defence Minister but also a full time Woman Defence  Minister and this is history being made in the corridors of South Block. For the first time the Holy Cow Defence  and  matters military have at their helm of affairs in India a leader from the so called ‘weaker sex’.

And as she is in the process of getting a feel  there are challenges awaiting to be met.  The most important being the modernisation programme of the forces  before parliamentary elections in 2019. Strong decisions which have been long overdue will need to be taken.

Next challenge and possibly the most overdue will be the creation of a chief of defence staff which has not only been avoided by governments for long but also for some reason never got on to the discussion mode.

Pakistan, China, Line of Control and Line of Actual Control will be rhetoric she will have to address keeping in mind the nation’s security and India’s International stature . Soldier’s motivation and the forces’ strength will need her nurturing.

The most chanted mantra but also the most difficult to implement keeping in mind small orders and long gestation period – Make in India – will be probably the most tough to implement. Madame Defence Minister will have to see whether the Indian defence industry and the foreign OEMs are able to take this forward.

Human Resource issues like discontentment with the 7th pay commission and unhappiness over  withdrawal of free rations at peace stations will also need her attention.

Fund flow for modernisation is another need which will have to be adequately fulfilled. The Defence Budget will need to be more realistic, if all the procurements need to be done in the next few years. And this is keeping  in pace with just the pending deliveries in mind.

With the US Defence Secretary all set to reach India today, all eyes will be on the new Defence Minister and her strategies to keep the friendly super power in good humour along with keeping India’s interests supreme.

From Board Room to War Room  will indeed be a great challenge for the ex-Commerce Minister but not that big that a Minister of her calibre should find difficult to meet. So all the best to her from ADU for a very successful tenure.

Sangeeta Saxena

24th September 2017

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