Essay On Indias Defence Preparedness Cycle


It is no secret that the million plus strong Army, facing two known adversaries who pose serious security challenges individually and potentially in tandem, has been facing numerous hindrances, some of which are its own making, in its capability building to meet the prevailing security threats. The common force management challenges facing the three services involve glaring deficiencies in infrastructure, especially along the Northern border regions, reorientation of training to achieve realism and seamless tri-service synergy, the shortfall in planned force structure due to delays in the induction of required weapon systems and equipment, shortage of officers, efficient use of available human resource and slow pace of modernisation through upgradation of existing equipment. Some of these challenges can only be met through all-of-government initiatives but others can be addressed at the level of the Services. Being comparatively smaller in number and with smaller ranges of major equipment, the Air Force and Navy today are better structured and better geared to achieve the targets of force development in the medium to long term. The Army, on the other hand, has been facing major challenges even in capability retention due to chronic shortage of very basic requirement such as ammunition and fuses. Military capability, particularly the army’s capability, is seriously affected by delays in procurement, inadequate attention to the serviceability state of the equipment and organisational constraints.

Understanding Military Capability

Perhaps there is inadequate understanding among our planners about a viable force structure. The first element of a viable force is ‘what it has is wholesome’, meaning that the weapon systems and equipment currently held is adequate in terms of quantity, is fully serviceable, and is backed by the adequate supply of expendables and essentials to sustain capability. Whereas delay in induction of new frontline equipment is often highlighted, the serviceability of existing equipment is not being paid adequate attention. A near 100 per cent equipment serviceability will provide confidence to the users; therefore greater attention needs to be paid to this aspect. Prudent short term planning and timely action by stakeholders can easily take care of this most important aspect.

The second element involves ‘periodical upgradation of existing equipment to handle the current challenges and wholesomely meeting the requirement of any planned accretion of forces’. This will ensure that what we hold is current and matches what our adversaries possess. This element can effectively be taken care of through prudent medium term planning.

The third but equally important element is the ‘continuous modernization of the force by gradual induction of latest equipment for giving a futuristic outlook to the force(s). At least 25 per cent of our major weapon systems and equipment needs to be the best in the class available anywhere. This is a function of long term planning and drawing up a clear road map for implementation. In actual sense, none of the three processes is isolated and should run concurrently.


Procurement of weapon systems and equipment is an important function for managing the operational health, morale and capability of the armed forces. The primary aim of this Issue Brief is to analyse the challenges in procurement and the resultant difficulties faced by the Indian Army in capability development, capability retention and attaining optimum operational readiness.


As India aspires for great power status and a major role in global affairs, military capability needs greater focus than what it has been receiving in the years since independence, lest the poor management of security issues and resultant vulnerabilities should make the army hollow. Procurement challenges affecting defence preparedness can be discussed under two broad categories; intrinsic and organisational. Intrinsic challenges comprise the foundational issues which are beyond the Government and organizational control and have become deep rooted due to half-hearted approach and years of indifference in addressing the fundamental aspects having a bearing on self-sufficiency. Organizational challenges are mostly those which are well known but there is little or inadequate attempt to address them entirely due to unrelated considerations. This Issue Brief deals with organisational shortcomings only.

Organisational Challenges

There are a large number of issues, including some important ones discussed in succeeding paragraphs which, if handled imaginatively, can significantly bring down the procurement delays and enhance self-reliance, thereby ensuring improved capacity building and retention. Organisational challenges in turn fall under two categories, viz, higher level decision making and the improvement of processes in procurement.

Higher Level Decision Making

A few interesting questions come to mind while analysing the higher level decision making on issues affecting India’s defence. To begin with, is the nation and the government fully aware of the state of defence preparedness and the shortcomings thereof? The answer is yes – a number of studies ordered by the government from time inter alia the Kargil Committee Report, the Kelkar and Rama Rao Committee Reports as well as the recent Naresh Chandra Task Force and the Government Task Force Report on Modernisation and Self Reliance had a purpose; to provide an insight into the issues affecting National Security and recommend measures for overcoming the challenges in concerned areas. The second question that follows is, whether the findings and recommendations contained in these reports have been implemented? While a complete analysis of these reports is beyond the scope of this Issue Brief, it can be said with certainty that a large number of the recommendations remain un-implemented or only partly implemented.

Essentially, the government is aware of the problems, knows what can effectively resolve the shortcomings and also has a mandate to do so. But effective decision making has been absent. The big question is why so? The collective decision making or the lack of it and a labyrinthine civil-military bureaucracy with differing perceptions even on issues affecting national security is the primary reason for this state of affairs. For the Department of Defence Production the interests of the work force in Ordnance Factories and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) could be as important as the requirement to bring in the private industry to address the lack of self-reliance; similarly, the Army and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) could differ on the planned capabilities and the process to achieve them; and so on. In order to avoid unpleasantness, the government steers clear of controversial decisions. It is essential to identify the criticalities, take firm decisions to address systemic anomalies, define policies in clear cut terms, and oversee the implementation of decisions in a demanding and timely manner.

Then there are issues related to legalities in defence procurement such as a ban on companies following corrupt practices. With most foreign companies consolidating their business in large consortiums through mergers and acquisitions, banning a few companies could result in a limited vendor base and lack of competitive bidding. In some cases, the banned vendors could be the single or best source for a particular type of equipment.

Yet another area where swifter government decision making could help is the disposal of anonymous complaints, issue based complaints or court cases filed by vendors. Most anonymous complaints are an outcome of business rivalries and are aimed at diminishing the prospects of other vendor(s). These complaints often result in delays until the same are investigated and disposed off in accordance with set procedures aimed at ensuring transparency and ruling out malpractices. The expeditious disposal of complaints including anonymous complaints can save crucial time and cost over-runs. And specific complaints need to be dealt with urgency to speed up the procurement process.

The revised offset policy is a welcome step as it includes technology transfer as part of the offsets. Since offsets are not free of cost, the government must ensure drawing maximum value from offset provisions. Establishing complete assembly lines, manufacturing facilities of the whole equipment or crucial assemblies and sub-assemblies or sustainment ancillaries will be necessary to benefit from the offset provisions.

Adequacy and Training of Human Resource

Another area which needs clear emphasis is the adequacy and training of the human resource involved in procurement. Most of the officers involved in the process, civilian or military, have no prior experience or formal training to undertake or discharge the major responsibility entrusted to them. On-the-job training is inadequate to understand the complexities of defence trade and the internal policies. Lack of basic tools such as a well equipped reference library denies officers the knowledge essential for conducting their business. Possibly, as an immediate measure, the government could look into organising short capsules (10 to 30 days) and medium term courses (2 to 3 months duration) to facilitate understanding of the acquisition processes. The training can be appropriately reoriented through creation of a full fledged Defence Acquisition Wing as part of the National Defence University as and when it is established. This wing will cater for training, research and evolving best practices for acquisition.

A tenure of even three years for functional level appointees, especially from the Army, is considered inadequate. However, much shorter tenures for senior appointees as at present has a definite adverse impact on procurement. It is rare for a Brigadier to Lieutenant General Rank officer to have a tenure of even two years in the procurement wing. A sizeable portion of this tenure goes into learning the trade as most officers are posted for the first time in such an assignment and some of them could be averse to taking meaningful decisions in the last stages of their tenure. The government and the Army Headquarters should look into this aspect from a functional perspective and the specialized nature of the job. The case is no different for the civilian bureaucracy as can be seen in the third change of JS (LS) within a little over one and a half years.

Considering the scale of acquisitions for an organisation of the size of the Indian Army, what is needed is a well trained and organised cadre of specialists to do the job efficiently. While the procurement process suffers due to inadequacies of strength, domain specialisation, research tools and specialists to execute various procurement steps, a large number of capable Colonel and Brigadier rank officers are being posted in not so important assignments. Overall, the acquisition set-up does not have adequate numbers for domain specialisation and conducting business in a seamless manner.

Involvement of a Large Number of Agencies

The involvement of a large number of agencies including the Cabinet Committee on Security, Defence Acquisition Council, Defence Procurement Board, Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence (MoD) Officials in Finance and Acquisition Wings, Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff and the three services, Ordnance Factory Board, DPSUs, DRDO, Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) and many others makes coordination a very challenging task. This may be unavoidable but, as reported in the press from time to time, the questioning of the necessity of an acquisition by the Ministry of Finance after it has been approved by the Raksha Mantri is beyond comprehension. A fair and frank joint professional interaction rather than stove-pipe style of processing of cases is the only way to clear bottlenecks.

The Blame Game and Responsibility Issues

While the MoD is often blamed for the state of affairs including marathon delays in projects, let us not forget that the Army too has as much a role in the process. Without apportioning blame, it may be sufficient to state that if there was fair scrutiny then the Army would find enough reasons to streamline its own process and undertake organisational changes. A large number of procurements do not fructify due to procedural or technical flaws in the project processes directly handled by the Army. Even the surrender of funds, a recurring phenomenon, occurs when the Army is not able to spend the allotted funds in time. Deep introspection would help in understanding the shortcomings better. The MoD on the other hand needs to expedite decision making and do away with its overcautious approach in handling procurement cases.

Desired Improvements in Procurement Process within the Army

This section is focused specifically on the Army and the areas where improvement could help in avoiding delays in procurement. The issues are deliberated in the same sequence and steps as followed in a procurement process.

Perspective Planning

The Army has a reasonably robust structure for perspective planning, which is focused on a wide array of operational concepts, new age military thinking and transformational philosophies. However, there is a lack of realisation that actual combat capability is a function of sound organisational structure, technology and well trained human resource. There is no realistic audit of the actual combat potential of fighting units suffering from multiple problems such as heavy manpower engagement in mundane administrative duties, equipment shortages or poor maintenance, and socio-economic factors that have induced stress and affected the lives of men. A realistic assessment of existing and desired capabilities and logical perspective planning would help the Army leadership to focus on removing chronic equipment shortages and maintenance issues. Perspective planning could possibly be split into three entities under a single head to include Capability Assessment Wing, Perspective Planning Wing and Capability Development Wing, with equal focus on realistic assessment of current capabilities through audit and analysis; short medium and long term planning; and overseeing the implementation of plans in a dedicated manner. It will require matching accretion of human resource in the Perspective Planning Wing. The ultimate aim of the planning process should be to identify and develop joint capability with the other services to save time and money in procurements.

Service Qualitative Requirement (SQR) Formulation

SQR formulation is a specialised and complex process and has to factor in numerous issues including capability requirement, technical parameters of the equipment, availability of technologies nationally or internationally, obsolescence timeframe, the agencies and mechanisms involved and ability to carry out proper trials. It requires specialist skills and ample understanding of current and futuristic technologies keeping in view the employment period of the equipment. The Army has a large inventory of equipment and needs a very vast pool of professionals and domain specialists to create approximately 100 to 200 SQRs annually covering the entire range of equipment. Apart from adequate numbers of well trained and technically proficient personnel, there is a requirement to provide the necessary means including research tools to come up with sound SQRs. Policy documents such as General Staff Policy Statements need to be updated regularly to align them with changing technological trends and operational requirements.

Common or universal SQRs requiring similar equipment performance across the varied terrain in the country is another manifestation of the procurement process. Commonality is required due to strategic reasons of flexibility in force employment and inventory management. However, very few countries make equipment that can effectively operate in the entire range of Indian climatic and terrain conditions. This is a challenge which needs a very fine balance and mature handling. Being the starting point of procurement, SQRs need to be finalised well before the Acceptance of Necessity for realistic costing as well to size up the other requirements of a proposal including costing, life cycle sustenance, assessment of capability and time required for indigenous development where applicable. The tendency to formulate imprecise and indeterminate SQRs need to be curbed as this results in severe time penalties and cost overruns. The time spent in processing a SQR from conceptualisation to acceptance as it passes various steps needs to be reduced drastically from the current 8 to 12 months to a maximum of six months. A single organisation being fully responsible for the task can substantially meet this requirement.

Acceptance of Necessity (AoN)

Once again a dedicated human resource with single-point responsibility for formulation of proposals is very important for drawing up comprehensive proposals that do not require revisiting by the Defence Acquisition Council or Services Capital Acquisition Plan Categorisation Higher Committee (CAPCHC) for repeated approvals. Likely shortcomings include inappropriate cost analysis, incomplete proposals in terms of left-out peripherals or support systems and sustenance essentials. Other lacunae include imprecise capability assessment of vendors or development agencies to provide the required equipment in terms of timeliness, capability and quantity.

Vendor Analysis

Vendor analysis is not a stand-alone step but a very important part of the process including SQR and AoN formulation as well issue of Requests for Proposal (RsFP). Although recent guidelines have helped to streamline the process, the method and the resultant vendor analyses are neither professional nor perfect. Poor vendor analysis can be attributed to the lack of database, proper research mechanisms and facilities, restrictions on interaction with vendors and inadequate focus. Along with the poor SQRs, poor vendor analysis is one of the most important reasons derailing the procurement process.

Formulation of RsFP

This is one area where the Army has tried to create specialisation, with director level officers handling RsFP of equipment concerning their own arms. But this has not addressed the procedural anomalies. However, a perceptible change in the process and quality of work is visible. The issue of old AoNs and SQRs requiring revalidation and systemic delays continue to affect the timely issue of RsFP. The timeframe for issue of RsFP in the Defence Procurement Procedure needs a review to factor in large scale coordination and inputs required before finalization of RsFP. Based on the experience gained, a RFP cell could be further strengthened to provide adequate back-up and support system.

Technical Evaluation

There are lesser issues in technical evaluation, which is a well established process. However, technical evaluation may result in a single vendor situation or all vendors not meeting a few SQR parameters. This situation can be avoided by paying adequate attention to details in the initial processes. Transparent and requirement based relaxation in some of the SQR parameters at this stage could help prevent delays.


Trials are again a very intricate process involving users, DGQA, Army Centre of Electromagnetics (ACE) and the maintenance agencies. The trials process has evolved over a period of time. However, continuous improvement in the Standing Operating Procedures by incorporating lessons learnt, assessing trialability of SQRs during formulation, leeway in terms of repair and modification during trials and scope for confirmatory trials in the Trial Directives will all go a long way in simplifying the procedures. Another requirement is to establish full-fledged trial and testing laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment and well-trained technicians and domain specialists. Trial directives have to have scope to deal with the likely contingencies and cater for overcoming them.

General Staff (GS) Evaluation

Like Technical Evaluation, even the GS evaluation is an established practice. However, there are multiple situations that emerge in the process including single vendor, need for confirmatory trials with none of the vendors meeting SQR criteria, requirement of relaxing SQRs (need based), vendor complaints and incomplete trials, which need to be handled with caution on a case to case basis due to legal implications as well as to avoid bias or favouritism.

Analysis of Commercial Quotes

Incomplete quotes, non-adherence to offset requirement, quotes not accompanied by requisite financial guarantees and faulty calculations of engineering support package are some of the shortcomings that recur. Clearly spelt out needs in the RsFP can help reduce such occurrences.

Contract Negotiation

This is one area where lack of specialist skills including technical, legal, costing and negotiating can lead to a higher financial burden. Poorly negotiated contracts can lead to enhanced valuation, inadequate safeguards, exploitable loopholes that work to the advantage of the vendors, incomplete and ineffective realisation of technology or maintenance support, transfer of technology and under-provisioning of sustainment essentials. Appropriate negotiation skills are imperative for professionals involved in contract negotiation and these skills need to be imparted. Transfer of technology must start immediately after a contract is signed so that the indigenous production of the equipment commences early and the vendor is held accountable for shortfalls in providing the desired technology. Delay in transfer of technology in the case of T-90 tanks is a case in point.

Contract Formulation

Contract is a legal document that needs a thorough legal scrutiny to avoid complications at a later stage. Most vendors, especially foreign, have a battery of legal experts to formulate a document that is aligned to their requirements. We need to have enhanced legal support and skill sets to formulate contracts that meet designed expectations of a procurement project. Besides, case studies of past experience where inadequate attention was paid while framing contracts resulting in losses must be documented and referred to while drawing up contracts from now on.

Contract Monitoring

The last but most important step in the procurement chain is contract or project monitoring. The defence acquisition process is replete with examples of non-implementation of technology transfer agreements and other stipulations such as indigenous content, non-availability of engineering support and so on. Each contract is to be monitored carefully so that the supply of primary equipment and delivery of essentials for technology and maintenance and transfer of technology is aligned with the payment schedule as per clearly defined guidelines. However, shortcomings lie in long-term implementation of overall projects including absorption of technologies in the prescribed manner leading to inefficient gains and operational shortfalls in the projects. The monitoring mechanism, therefore, needs to be strengthened by setting in motion a defined process with the involvement of concerned stakeholders.


The procurement process is undoubtedly full of challenges but these are not insurmountable. Whereas there is a need for regular evaluation of the effectiveness of policies and procedures at the level of the Ministry of Defence and the government, there is so much more that can be done at the level of the services. The Army being the largest service and fielding the largest array of equipment needs to improve its own processes by carrying out an internal analysis and taking effective steps to speed up the procurement process. There is also a necessity to improve the equipment availability state with the field force. The financial powers delegated to commanders at various levels should be utilised gainfully for this purpose. Accepting the shortcomings in its processes and taking steps to overcome them, particularly where internal measures can improve the processes, is the most important step towards capacity building. The fact that procurement delays continue in the Army, more than in the other two services, calls for serious introspection and immediate action by the Army.

The Indian Armed Forces (Hindi (in IAST): Bhāratīya Saśastra Senāeṃ) are the military forces of the Republic of India. It consists of three[12][13] professional uniformed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force. Additionally, the Indian Armed Forces are supported by the Indian Coast Guard and paramilitary organisations[14] (Assam Rifles, and Special Frontier Force) and various inter-service commands and institutions such as the Strategic Forces Command, the Andaman and Nicobar Command and the Integrated Defence Staff. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Armed Forces are under the management of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Government of India. With strength of over 1.4 million active personnel,[15][16] it is the world's 2nd largest military force and has the world's largest volunteer army.[17] It is important to note that the Central Armed Police Forces, which are commonly and incorrectly referred to as 'Paramilitary Forces', are headed by officers from the Indian Police Service and are under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, not the Ministry of Defence.

The Indian armed forces have been engaged in a number of major military operations, including: the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971, the Portuguese-Indian War, the Sino-Indian War, the 1967 Chola incident, the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish, the Kargil War, and the Siachen conflict among others. India honours its armed forces and military personnel annually on Armed Forces Flag Day, 7 December. Since 1962, the IAF has maintained close military relations with Russia, including cooperative development of programmes such as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). Armed with the nuclear triad,[18] the Indian armed forces are steadily undergoing modernisation,[19] with investments in areas such as futuristic soldier systems and missile defence systems.[20][19]

The Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the indigenous production of equipment used by the Indian Armed Forces. It comprises the 41 Indian Ordnance Factories under the control of the Ordnance Factories Board, and eight Defence PSUs namely: HAL, BEL, BEML, BDL, MDL, GSL, GRSE and Midhani.[8] India was the largest importer of defence equipment in 2014 with Russia, Israel, France and the United States being the top foreign suppliers of military equipment.[21][22][23] The Government of India has launched a Make in India initiative to indigenise manufacturing and reduce dependence on imports, including defence imports and procurement.


Main article: Military history of India

India has one of the longest military histories, dating back several millennia. The first reference to armies is found in the Vedas as well as the epics Ramayana and Mahabaratha. Classical Indian texts on archery in particular, and martial arts in general are known as Dhanurveda.

Ancient to medieval era[edit]

Indian maritime history dates back 5,000 years.[24] The first tidal dock is believed to have been built at Lothal around 2300 BC during the Indus Valley Civilisation period, near the present day port of Mangrol on the Gujarat coast.[25] The Rig Veda written around 1500 BC, credits Varuna with knowledge of the ocean routes and describes naval expeditions. There is reference to the side wings of a vessel called Plava, which gives the ship stability in storm conditions. A compass, Matsya yantra was used for navigation in the fourth and fifth century AD. The earliest known reference to an organisation devoted to ships in ancient India is in the Mauryan Empire from the 4th century BC. Powerful militaries included those of the: Maurya, Satavahana, Chola, Vijayanagara, Mughal and Marathaempires.[26] Emperor Chandragupta Maurya's mentor and advisor Chanakya's Arthashastra devotes a full chapter on the state department of waterways under navadhyaksha (Sanskrit for Superintendent of ships) [1]. The term, nava dvipantaragamanam (Sanskrit for "sailing to other lands by ships," i.e. exploration) appears in this book in addition to appearing in the Vedic text, Baudhayana Dharmashastra as the interpretation of the term, Samudrasamyanam.

Sea lanes between India and neighbouring lands were used for trade for many centuries, and are responsible for the widespread influence of Indian Culture on other societies. The Cholas excelled in foreign trade and maritime activity, extending their influence overseas to China and Southeast Asia. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Maratha and Kerala fleets were expanded, and became the most powerful Naval Forces in the subcontinent, defeating European navies at various times (See the Battle of Colachel). The fleet review of the Maratha navy, at which the ships Pal and Qalbat participated, took place at the Ratnagiri fort.[27] The MarathaKanhoji Angre, and Kunjali Marakkar, the Naval chief of Saamoothiri were two notable naval chiefs of the period.

British India (1857 to 1947)[edit]

Main articles: Royal Indian Navy, British Indian Army, and Presidency armies

The Royal Indian Navy was first established by the British while much of India was under the control of the East India Company. In 1892, it became a maritime component as the Royal Indian Marine (RIM).

During World War I the Indian Army contributed a number of divisions and independent brigades to the European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres of war. One million Indian troops served overseas; 62,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded. In total, 74,187 Indian soldiers died during the war. It fought against the German Empire in German East Africa and on the Western Front. Indian divisions were also sent to Egypt, Gallipoli and nearly 700,000 served in Mesopotamia against the Ottoman Empire.

Following WWI, the Indian Armed Forces underwent significant transformation. In 1928, Engineer Sub-lieutenant D. N. Mukherji became the first Indian to receive a commission in the Royal Indian Marine. In 1932, the Indian Air Force was established as an auxiliary air force; two years later, the RIM was upgraded to the status of a naval service as the Royal Indian Navy (RIN).

Though the gradual "Indianisation" of the officer corps began after WWI, at the outbreak of war in 1939, there were no Indian flag, general or air officers in the armed services. The highest-ranking Indian officers were those serving in the non-combatant Indian Medical Service, who held no rank higher than colonel; in the regular Indian Army, there were no Indian officers above the rank of major.[28] The Royal Indian Navy had no Indian senior line officers and only a single Indian senior engineer officer,[29] while the Indian Air Force had no Indian senior officers in 1939, with the highest-ranking Indian air force officer a flight lieutenant.[29][30]

In World War II, the Indian Army began the war in 1939 with just under 200,000 men. By the end of the war it had become the largest volunteer army in history, rising to over 2.5 million men by August 1945.[31] Serving in divisions of infantry, armour and a fledgling airborne forces, they fought on three continents in Africa, Europe and Asia. The Indian Army fought in Ethiopia against the Italian Army, in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia against both the Italian and German Army, and, after the Italian surrender, against the German Army in Italy. However, the bulk of the Indian Army was committed to fighting the Japanese Army, first during the British defeats in Malaya and the retreat from Burma to the Indian border; later, after resting and refitting for the victorious advance back into Burma, as part of the largest British Empire army ever formed. These campaigns cost the lives of over 36,000 Indian servicemen, while another 34,354 were wounded; 67,340 became prisoners of war. Their valour was recognised with the award of some 4,000 decorations, and 38 members of the Indian Army were awarded the Victoria Cross or the George Cross.[31]

The demands of war and increasing recognition that the era of British dominance in the subcontinent was ending increased the pace of "Indianisation." In 1940, Subroto Mukherjee (later the first Indian C-in-C and Chief of the Air Staff) became the first Indian to command an air force squadron and attain the (albeit acting) rank of squadron leader.[32] In July 1941, Indian Medical Service officer Hiraji Cursetji became one of the first Indian officers to be promoted to substantive general officer rank.[33] During the war, several Indian Army officers, notably Kodandera M. Cariappa, S. M. Shrinagesh and Kodandera Subayya Thimayya, all of whom would subsequently command the Indian Army, achieved distinction as the first Indian battalion and brigade commanders. In 1946, sailors of the Royal Indian Navy mutinied on board ships and in shore establishments. A total of 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors were involved in the rebellion, which had an impact across India.

Dominion of India (1947–1950)[edit]

The period immediately following Indian independence was a traumatic time for India and her armed services. Along with the newly independent India, the Indian Armed Forces were forcibly divided between India and Pakistan, with ships, divisions and aircraft allocated to the respective Dominions. During this period, the armed forces of India were involved in a number of significant military operations, notably the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and Operation Polo, the code name of a military operation in September 1948 where the Indian Armed Forces invaded the State of Hyderabad and overthrew its Nizam, annexing the state into the Indian Union. On 15 January 1949, General K M Cariappa was appointed the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian army.

Republic of India (1950 to present)[edit]

Main article: Military operations of India

Upon India becoming a sovereign republic on 26 January 1950, some of the last vestiges of British rule - rank badges, imperial crowns, British ensigns and "Royal" monikers - were dropped and replaced with the Indian tricolour and the Lion Capital of Asoka.[34] While India had become a republic, British officers seconded from the British Armed Forces continued to hold senior positions in the Indian Armed Forces into the early 1960s. On 1 April 1954, Air MarshalSubroto Mukherjee became the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Air Force. Effective from 1 April 1955, a Parliamentary Act, the Commanders-In-Chiefs (Change in Designation) Act, re-designated the office of Commander-in-Chief as the Chief of Staff of each branch. Not until 1958 would the last British chief of staff that of the Indian Navy, be succeeded by an Indian. On 22 April of that year, Vice Admiral Ram Dass Katari became the first Indian Chief of Naval Staff. The Chiefs of Staff of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy were upgraded to four-star rank on par with the Chief of Army Staff in 1966 and 1968, respectively.

In 1961 tensions rose between India and Portugal over the Portuguese-occupied territory of Goa, which India claimed for itself. After Portuguese police cracked down violently on a peaceful, unarmed demonstration for union with India, the Indian government decided to invade and initiated Operation Vijay. A lopsided air, sea, and ground campaign resulted in the speedy surrender of Portuguese forces. Within 36 hours, 451 years of Portuguese colonial rule ended, and Goa was annexed by India.

India fought four major wars with its neighbour Pakistan in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999, and with China in 1962. Indian victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, helped create the free country of Bangladesh. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pakistan began organising tourist expeditions to the Siachen Glacier, disputed territory with India. Irked by this development, in April 1984 India initiated the successful Operation Meghdoot during which it gained control over all of the 70 kilometer (41 mile)-long Siachen Glacier, and all of its tributary glaciers, as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier—Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La.[35][36] According to TIME magazine, India gained more than 1,000 square miles (3,000 km2) of territory as a result of its military operations in Siachen.[37] In 1987 and in 1989 Pakistan to re-take the glacier but was unsuccessful. The conflict ended with Indian Victory.[38] There has been a ceasefire since 2003.[citation needed]

The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) carried out a mission in northern and eastern Sri Lanka in 1987–1990 to disarm the Tamil Tigers under the terms of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.[39] It was a difficult battle for the Indian Army, which was not trained for an unconventional war. After losing approximately 1,200 personnel and several T-72 tanks, India ultimately abandoned the mission in consultation with the Sri Lankan government. In what was labelled as Operation Pawan, the Indian Air Force flew about 70,000 sorties to and within Sri Lanka.

The beginning of the 21st century saw a reorientation for India on the global stage from a regional role in the subcontinent to a major role in the Indian Ocean region stretching from the Gulf of Aden to the Malacca Strait.[40] India's sphere of influence needs to encompass not just the South Asian Sub-continent, but also the northern Indian Ocean area, from the eastern seaboard of Africa in the west, to the Malacca Straits in the east, and must include Iran, Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics (CARs), China and Myanmar. India's credibility, as a regional power will be contingent on institutional stability, economic development and military strength, including nuclear deterrence. The long stretches of disputed borders with China and Pakistan, and sizeable areas under their occupation, continue to be major irritants, in spite of the peace processes under-way with both countries.[citation needed]



The headquarters of the Indian Armed Forces is in New Delhi, the capital city of India. The President of India serves as the formal Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces,[41] while actual control lies with the executive headed by the Prime Minister of India. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is the ministry charged with the responsibilities of countering insurgency and ensuring external security of India. GeneralBipin Rawat is the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Admiral Sunil Lanba is the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) and Air Chief MarshalBirender Singh Dhanoa is the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS).[42][needs update] The Indian armed force are split into different groups based on their region of operation. The Indian Army is divided administratively into seven tactical commands, each under the control of different Lieutenant Generals. The Indian Air Force is divided into five operational and two functional commands.[43] Each Command is headed by an Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Air Marshal. The Indian Navy operates three Commands. Each Command is headed by a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Vice Admiral. There are two joint commands whose head can belong to any of the three services. These are the Strategic Forces Command and the Andaman and Nicobar Command. The lack of an overall military commander has helped keep the Indian Armed Forces under civilian control, and has prevented the rise of military dictatorships unlike in neighbouring Pakistan.[44]

The Armed Forces have four main tasks;[45]

  • To assert the territorial integrity of India.
  • To defend the country if attacked by a foreign nation.
  • To support the civil community in case of disasters (e.g. flooding).
  • To participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations in consonance with India's commitment to the United Nations Charter.

The code of conduct of the Indian military is detailed in a semi-official book called Customs and Etiquette in the Services, written by retired Major General Ravi Arora, which details how Indian personnel are expected to conduct themselves generally.[46] Arora is an executive editor of the Indian Military Review.[47]

The major deployments of the Indian army constitute the border regions of India, particularly Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and Northeast India, to engage in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations. The major commitments of the Indian Navy constitute patrol missions, anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, the 'Singapore Indian Maritime Bilateral Exercise' with the Republic of Singapore Navy in the Straits of Malacca,[48] maintaining a military presence in Southeast Asias waters, and joint exercises with other countries, such as: Brasil, South Africa,[49] the United States and Japan,[50] France (Varuna naval exercises), the People's Republic of China,[51] the Russian Navy (INDRA naval exercises), and others.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, India allocated $40 billion to Defence Services, $10 billion to Defence (Civil Estimates) and another $10 billion to the Home Ministry for Paramilitary and CAPF forces - a total allocation for defence and security of about $60 billion for the financial year 2015–16.[52][53] In 2016-17, the contribution to the Home Ministry has been increased from $10 billion to $11.5 billion.[54]

Contemporary criticism of the Indian military have drawn attention to several issues, such as lack of political reform,[55] obsolete equipment,[56] lack of adequate ammunition,[56] and inadequate research and development due to over-reliance on foreign imports.[57] In addition, the lack of a 'strategic culture' among the political class in India is claimed to have hindered the effectiveness of the Indian military.[44] Critics believe these issues hobble the progress and modernisation of the military. However, analysis by the Central Intelligence Agency indicates that India is projected to have the fourth most capable concentration of power by 2015.[58][needs update] According to a report published by the US Congress, India is the developing world's leading arms purchaser.[59] It is investing ₹99.7 billion (US$1.5 billion) to build a dedicated and secure optical fibre cable (OFC) network for exclusive use of the Army, Navy and Air Force. This will be one of the world's largest closed user group (CUG) networks.[60]


This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(June 2017)

During 2010, the Indian Armed Forces had a reported strength of 1.4 million active personnel and 2.1 million reserve personnel. In addition, there were approximately 1.3 million paramilitary personnel, making it one of the world's largest military forces.[61] A total of 1,567,390 ex- servicemen are registered with the Indian Army, the majority of them hailing from: Uttar Pradesh (271,928), Punjab (191,702), Haryana (165,702), Maharashtra (143,951), Kerala (127,920), Tamil Nadu (103,156), Rajasthan (100,592) and Himachal Pradesh (78,321). Many of them are re-employed in various Central government sectors. [62] Prior to 1992, women served in auxiliary services. Since then, women have been granted the right to serve as officers in the military and starting 2015, women fighter jet combat pilots were also inducted. As of 2014, the percentage of the women in the Army was 3%, in the Navy was 2.8% and in the Air Force was 8.5%.[63]

Recruitment and Training[edit]

The highest wartime gallantry award given by the Military of India is the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), followed by the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) and the Vir Chakra (VrC). Its peacetime equivalent is the Ashoka Chakra Award. The highest decoration for meritorious service is the Param Vishisht Seva Medal.

Indian Armed Forces[15][6][64]
Indian Army1,237,117960,000
Indian Navy67,22855,000
Indian Air Force139,576140,000
Paramilitary Forces[6]
Indian Coast Guard11,000
Assam Rifles66,000
Special Frontier Force10,000[66]
Central Armed Police Forces and Others'[6][67]
Central Reserve Police Force313,678
Border Security Force257,363
Indo-Tibetan Border Police89,432
Central Industrial Security Force144,418
Sashastra Seema Bal76,337
Railway Protection Force70,000[66]
National Disaster Response Force13,000
National Security Guard7,350[66]
Defence Security Corps31,000[66]
Special Protection Group3,000[66]
State Armed Police400,000[66]
Civil Defence500,000[66]
Home Guard487,800[66]
Humber armoured cars of 10th Indian Division move forward in Italy, 22 July 1944.
Picture showing equivalent ranks and insignia of Indian Armed Forces (click to enlarge)

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