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Arun Jaitley clears major military reforms proposal

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Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who currently holds additional charge of the defence ministry, has given approval for implementing comprehensive military reforms.

  • The approval comes after Mr. Jaitley reviewed a presentation on 18th March 2017, which was primarily based on a recommendations made by the Lt General (retired) DB Shekatkar committee.

Details about DB Shekatkar Committee:

  • Constituted on: 20th May 2016 by the Defence Minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar
  • Headed By: Lt General (retired) DB Shekatkar
  • Other Members: 11 members including top military officers and defence experts
  • Mandate: Suggesting measures for “Enhancing Combat Capability of Indian Armed Forces and Rationalising India’s Defence Expenditure.”
  • Submitted Report on: 21st December 2016

Top Recommendations of DB Shekatkar Committee:

Out of the 90 important recommendation of the Shekatkar Committee approved by Mr. Arun Jaitley, following are the prominent ones:

  • The committee considers National Cadet Corps (NCC) as a non-core area and has thus suggested that military should not be involved in its operations.
  • Coordination among three defence services should be enhanced in order to remove duplicity.
  • Institutions such as the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and ordnance factory boards must be made accountable through the mechanism of conducting project audits and by getting rid of outdated concepts.
  • Most important recommendation of the Shekatkar committee is that the defence budget should be in the range of 2.5% to 3% of the GDP. This recommendation was meant to address the nature of security challenges which India faces from its neighbourhood.
  • The committee called for redefining the revenue and capital heads in the budget. In Arun Jaitleycontext of defence budget, ‘revenue’ means funds required to sustain the military, whereas ‘capital’ is amount to be spent on acquiring new defence weapons/systems and modernising the existing ones.

Expected Results Post Reforms:

  • The Committee believes that implementing the recommendations pertaining to rebalancing of military expenditure within next five years will save a whopping sum of Rs. 25000 crore from Government of India’s current expenditure. This amount can be redeployed in enhancing the combat capability of armed forces.
  • It is to be noted that out of the three armed forces, Army will be the biggest recipient of defence budgetary allocation.
  • These recommendations are not intended to cut jobs. Rather they are directed towards increasing the effectiveness of armed forces by putting in place a lean and agile structure.
  • Three defence services headquarters have been formally informed by the Defence secretary G Mohan Kumar to implement the approved recommendations.
  • Senior Officials in Defence Ministry have mentioned that Government intends to implement all the proposals in the next two years.

Along with the approval to create the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post, it is expected that PM Modi will soon approve the ‘Strategic Partner Policy’, with an aim to boost the “Make in India” campaign in context of defence sector.