GST on only two items will come down from 28% to 12% from November 15 and they are: Wet grinders consisting of stone as grinder and tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles. The inclusion of tanks in the list has raised eyebrows, first because India depends heavily on tanks from abroad and also because as part of ‘Make in India’ programme, several private sector companies have set up joint ventures to manufacture military equipment and armoured vehicles like tanks in India.
As much as 60 per cent of the tanks manufactured globally are said to be in use in China, India and Pakistan. India is said to have 1,600 T-90s , 2400 T-72s and just about 118 indigenously made Arjuns.
The decision is also significant because the defence ministry in September issued a global request for information on FRCV (Future Ready Combat Vehicles) and indicated that it was looking at supply of 1,700 such vehicles. FRCVs are new generation, state of the art tanks.
Experts believe it is a signal that India is moving away from indigenous tank projects, Arjun Mark 1 and Arjun Mark-2 promoted by the DRDO and manufactured by PSUs.
Several private sector companies including Tata Motors are eying the ₹60,000 Crore contract, suggest media reports.
Defence analyst Ajai Shukla on Saturday tweeted:
Replying to a light-hearted reply that accused him of being an anti-national and suggested that he should buy the indigenously made Arjun instead, Shukla responded by tweeting:
The exchange triggered more responses and hilarity as tweets suggested that it could be the season for clearance sales while some suggested that the tax could go down further. Some such replies that followed in the thread took a jibe at the decision:
“I always thought that might be useful in Delhi traffic”
“This, I think, has been done to facilitate JNU and other Universities to buy Tanks and other Armoury”
Ironically, Indian tanks which have been participating in ‘Tank Biathons’ in Russia have not fared too well. “In previous Tank Biathlons, since Russia began the Army Games in 2014, Russia has always come first, with China in second place. India has usually placed 6th, trailing Kazakhstan, Belorussia and Serbia,” reported a website in August while informing that in the Biathlon, which began on July 29 this year, and which was at a preliminary stage, Russia was leading with China in second place and India in fifth place. Only one of India’s three crews had competed till then.