(Adapted from a report by Gaurav C. Sawant in Indian Express of Jun 7, 2000)

The Army Chief has voiced his concern that many ordnance factories are not cost effective and fail to meet Army's expectations. He is also critical of R&D in some areas. "We are extremely unhappy with Nissan one-ton trucks and Jongas. These are World War II vehicles and guzzle petrol; some of them giving less than four km to a litre in high altitudes. The Army is also very unhappy with the Shaktiman trucks. The Vehicle Factory at Jabalpur now procures kits from Ashok Leyland and Telco, assembles them and supplies to the Army. The ordnance factories provide the army mainly with ammunition, spares and vehicles. The PSUs give radio communication equipment and electronics. There is lack of R&D in the Ordnance factories. They are overstaffed, over priced and thus counterproductive. Also because of lack of competition and assured market, they have become complacent. Their machines are antiquated and need to be modernised. There needs to be more free play for the armed forces to acquire the best for the soldiers. More than 50 years after Independence, we still don't have the capability of producing special clothing or gloves for extreme altitudes (14000 feet and above). The best guns we have (Howitzers) are imported and we need to import the tanks too. Components of many of the items these factories produce, are out-sourced."

There is need for all round improvement in these units to become cost-effective and quality producers.


Surfers may like to read our analysis on DRDO and defence production units in the Archives Section and see the commonality of views already expressed by IDC. The attempt of IDC is to assist in improving the system to deliver quality equipment and hence highlight the flaws, which in the past were glossed over. The Ministry of Defence Report 1999-2000 has been separately analysed. Two full chapters are devoted to DRDO and Defence Production and Supplies and PSUs along with their financial results in that report. The combined turnover of the units is over US$ 1.2 billion. With globalisation and liberalisation the private sector should be allowed to compete, foreign collaborations should be permitted and cloaks of secrecy lowered. There are 39 ordnanace factories, 8 PSU's under MOD, 5 Technical Support Organisations like DGQA etc and some 268,000 employees .

There is definite over manning and low productivity which cannot be eradicated overnight, but the way ahead is to see that India gets the best bang for its buck.

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