Ordnance factories walk the razor’s edge

What will be the impact of ‘Make in India’ on existing ordnance factories? Opening up defence to the private sector and global arms industry casts a shadow on 41 ordnance factories

Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Web Desk

Government policies have put a question mark on the future of 41 ordnance factories in the country, feels CPI member of the Rajya Sabha D Raja.

While the Government has allowed 100% private participation and 100% FDI in the ordnance industry, the future of ordnance factories and the employees now hang in balance, the CPI leader said in the Rajya Sabha.

The first ordnance factory, the MP pointed out, was set up in 1801 in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and since then as many as 41 ordnance factories have come up in the country.

“Even before the Government of India came out with a policy announcement on ‘Make-in-India’ and ‘Skill India’, these ordnance factories were pioneers in such movements,” he said. The then Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had informed Parliament that 85% of the products manufactured by the ordnance factories were indeed completely Indian. Only 14% of the products had some imported component.

“The problem is, the Government, one after the other, has allowed private participation in the production of arms and ammunition. That is how ‘Make-in-India’ is being understood!” Raja exclaimed. A complete list of ordnance factories and defence PSUs like Hindustan Aeronautics, Mazagon Docks, Goa Shipyard etc can be seen here.

Paradoxically, India between 2012 and 2016 also accounted for 13% of the global arms exports even as 60% of its military hardware continue to be imported.

The ordnance factories together employ 98,317 employees and have a turnover of ₹12,000 crore. These figures do not take into account the PSUs and the DRDO.

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Published: 07 Apr 2017, 5:47 PM