As the line between the universe of military systems, services, a related spin-off (technologies from military to civilian domains) or spin-on (technologies from civilian to military domains) products and wider civilian products are getting blurred day by day, military exhibitions dis- play more and more dual-use systems apart from primarily military intensive products and services.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has brought to the fore the grave geopolitical fault lines in Europe. India, the largest democracy in the world, has tacitly sided with Putin’s authoritarian Russia by abstaining from all the UN votes taken place since the Russian invasion. India’s decision was not so much about returning the favour of the Soviet Union’s crucial support on Kashmir issues during the early years of Indian independence. Rather, it was to protect New Delhi’s vital strategic interests.
General Bipin Rawat, the most decorated Indian military officer, who had served as the Chief of the Army Staff from December 2016 to December 2019, became India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) effectively from January 2020 until his untimely death in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu on December 8, 2021. Late General Rawat, an officer of the Indian Army from the Infantry (5/11 Gorkha Rifles), had a distinguished career of nearly 43 years of military service.
On 6 March 2021, the last day of the two-day Combined Commanders’ Conference (hereafter, CCC), the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the distinguished military gathering at Kevadia, Gujarat, in no uncertain terms that Indian armed forces need to be flexible and adaptive, accumulate combined strength, further Indian national interests and be the locomotive for promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing by using indigenous weapons in order to increase the country’s stature as a global power in an era of the fast-paced technological environment and fluid global security scenario.
The thirteenth edition of Aero India 2021, the biennial event organized by the Ministry of Defence, Government of India in collaboration with industry associations and government entities, was held in early February at the Yelanka Air Force Station, Bengaluru. Due to the continuing pandemic scenario, the event witnessed limited participation, most deliberations through virtual platforms, fewer flight displays and still fewer exhibition stalls.
On 13 January 2021, Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the highest decision making body on military and security affairs headed by the Prime Minister, approved procurement of 73 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the cost of INR 45,696 Crore along with design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth INR 1,202 crore. With this order, IAF will have a total of 123 LCA Tejas in its inventory (IAF had ordered 40 LCAs earlier), equivalent to seven squadrons in future.
On August 9, 2020, under the ambitious Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, the defence ministry (MoD) announced the imposition of an import embargo on 101 military products with a declared intent on boosting national military-industrial capacity. This much-publicised announcement has been cheered by all stakeholders of the Indian defence sector, especially the private manufacturers.
Interesting non-pandemic developments do occur during difficult Covid times. Such developments can span from miseries of individuals and institutions to states and the globe. While the states do confront such challenges, as part of regular considerations in aspects of governance, most appropriately on pandemic management, they may also face challenges of addressing issues that they may not have liked in these times, although such problems are an inherent part of national governance.