As the world unfolds into the post-pandemic era and elements of overall economic recovery signal in, India grapples with a perennial and dynamic outlook on maintaining a robust national security system. The geo-political scenario across the world, particularly in South Asia-Pacific is evolving by the day and requires a steady plan of action that solidifies India’s standing in terms of its normative as well as coercive powers.

India can build a persuasive case for defence diplomacy which can play an instrumental role in shaping peaceful relations with our international counterparts. The main goal of defence diplomacy is the co-formation and implementation of the state security policy, and its task - to create stable, long-term international relations in the field of defence (Drab, 2018). For India to rise as a true multipolar power and develop diplomatic agility, it must focus on “broadening” engagement with global powerhouse such as US, through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, and open bilateral and multilateral engagements. The long-time strategic alliances will shape India’s military and economic prisms. Additionally, one must note the emergence of asymmetric warfare and use of technology such as cyber-warfare and bioterrorism that are adding to the existing threat levels. A comprehensive and definite technologically advanced strategy is warranted to tackle such unconventional tactics.

It is indeed incontrovertible that the future of warfare will be technologically driven and only players that are at the forefront of adopting and sustaining innovation will gain a superior competitive advantage. Insertion of technology in the defence realm, in terms of military intelligence and modernisation of our existing capabilities will strengthen public and private response to external aggression.

In this regard, there have been continuous efforts to pursue military upgradation efforts to achieve self-reliance in air, naval, tactical, and strategic forces with advances in domestic defence production. On 31st May 2021, the defence minister approved a proposal of the Department of Military Affairs, Ministry of Defence (MoD) to notify the ‘Second Positive Indigenisation List’ of 108 items. According to the government, “This will give further boost to indigenisation with active participation of public and private sector for fulfilling the twin objectives of achieving self-reliance and promoting defence exports. The ‘Second Positive Indigenisation List’ comprises complex systems, sensors, simulator, weapons and ammunitions like Helicopters, Next Generation Corvettes, Air Borne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) systems, Tank Engines, Medium Power Radar for Mountains, MRSAM Weapon Systems and many more such items to fulfil the requirements of Indian Armed Forces.” In addition to this, Ministry of Defence also pledged 500 Cr to about 300 start-ups/MSMEs/innovators over the course of the next five years for its indigenisation scheme: “Innovations for Defence Excellence” (iDEX). This positive move will enable a culture of research and development in the defence and aerospace innovation ecosystem while also ensuring potential adoption in the defence establishment.

There have been several noteworthy achievements in the realm of national security driven solely by indigenously developed research. On 11 December 2021, DRDO and IAF jointly tested “indigenously designed and developed” Stand-off Anti-tank (SANT) Missile from Pokhran ranges. The SANT missiles provide high precision strike capability that can neutralise targets up to 10 kms in range. As per the government, “The flight-test was successful in meeting all its mission objectives. The release mechanism, advanced guidance and tracking algorithms, all avionics with integrated software, performed satisfactorily and tracking systems monitored all mission events.” The missile launch projects the high performing capabilities of the Indian defence industry and bolsters indigenous research.

Recently while delivering a keynote address at the Sydney Dialogue, Hon’ble Prime Minister highlighted that the onset of digital age is raising new questions on sovereignty, governance, ethics, law, rights & security. He further stated that technology and data are becoming the new weapons key to shaping the future international order. While India is on its way to becoming an economic powerhouse, the defence industry requires accelerated efforts through innovative, novel upgradations in terms of technological advancements that can tackle the ever-evolving nature of national security challenges.

This blog has been authored by Manali Amitav. 

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