Drumbeating spurt in defence export by BJP leaders portends a calamitous future for people


The BJP government organized a DefExpo2022 from 18 to 22 October 2022 at Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat, home state of the BJP PM in which 1,300 exhibitors including start-up Defence PSUs and private industries participated. It is being talked about in many quarters that this event was organized to boost the personal image of BJP PM Modi and derive electoral benefits for the ruling party in the forthcoming assembly election in the state. Besides that, the other objective of the DefExpo2022 is reportedly to augment arms export to 5 billion dollars by 2025. While speaking at the DefExpo, the BJP PM said that ‘‘India sees the defence sector as an infinite sky of opportunities, as positive possibilities.’’ His views were endorsed by Rajnath Singh, the BJP Defence Minister (DM), when he was outlining the purpose of DefExpo2022. ‘‘We are swiftly moving towards becoming the pioneers in design, development and manufacturing at a global level. We are witnessing a transformational journey from being the largest Defence importer to a net exporter’’. The minister described ‘path to pride’ as not just a theme of DefExpo 2022, but a ‘make in India’, ‘make for the world’ vision of ‘new India’. The Defence Minister also confirmed that as many as 75 countries participated in DefExpo2022, and more than 53 African countries would be explored as a new destination for its export of arms and defence equipment. According to him, it is ‘an era of empowerment for the Indian defence sector’ and India will become a ‘‘global defence manufacturing hub’’. Rajnath Singh also informed in September 2022 that ‘‘The Defence Ministry has set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore of defence production by 2025, which will include export of Rs 35,000 crore. The major contribution in this (70-80%) would be of India’s Defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs)’’.
Both BJP PM and DM evidently wanted to highlight before the world how India was progressing to become ‘‘Atmanirbhar’’ (self-reliant) in arms manufacturing and increasing capacity to supply sophisticated weaponry to the world. Also needed is to point out that Ajay Bhat, Minister of State, Defence, provided a clarification to India’s defence policy: ‘‘The Government of India has taken several policy initiatives in the past few years to encourage indigenous design, development, and manufacture of defence equipment, thereby promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing & technology in the country’’. Further, the BJP government has also liberalized the policy of foreign direct investment (FDI) policy allowing 74 per cent investment under the automatic route and up to 100% under government route in the defence sector. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) India was 23rd largest exporter of arms during 2017-21. (currentaffairs.adda.com 15-03-22)
These figures of India’s defence export, as we have indicated above, are changing fast as the BJP government is pushing for more and more militarization of Indian economy to artificially stimulate demands of basic goods like steel and at the same time increasing its military power to emerge as an imperialist superpower, not only in Asia but in the world. Alongside, a message is also sought to be given that India’s military hardware is of global standard and hence worth of being acquired by other countries. So, the objective of arms manufacturing and export on a large scale is to make both economic and political gains, trademark of an imperialist gameplan. Hence, India’s defence export has drastically grown in the last five years. The arms exports in 2021-22 were almost eight times what they were about five years back. Total defence and technology related exports touched the highest ever figure of Rs.12,815 crores in 2021-22 registering a 54.1% rise over the previous year. 70% of these exports came from the private sector and the remaining 30% from the public sector.
In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on 10 March 2021, Shripad Naik, Minister for state defence, informed that at present defence items from India are being exported to more than 84 countries but the ‘‘names of the countries cannot be divulged due to strategic reasons’’, stated a PIB press release. 30 Indian defence companies have exported arms and equipment even to countries like Italy, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Russia, France, Nepal, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Israel, Egypt, UAE, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Poland, Spain and Chile. The exports include personal protective items, defence electronics systems, engineering mechanical equipment, offshore patrol vessels, advanced light helicopters. avionics suits, radio systems and radar systems. One of the major export deals inked in January this year was the $375 million (Rs 2,770 crore) contracts to export BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to the Philippines, with further expectation of similar deals with other Asian countries like Indonesia and Vietnam. Thus, when productive investment in core sectors is dipping, defence manufacturing and exports are going up at a rapid pace. (ndtv 10-03-21) The BJP government of India has set a target of clocking defence exports worth USD 5 billion by 2024. (drishtilas.com dated 09-07-22) Sarcastically observed one commentator that India which once exported non-violence as cajoling philosophy is now trading violence overseas.
It is pertinent to mention here that to justify this militarization of economy, the ruling imperialists-capitalists often propagate that if military production booms in a country and arms exports go up, it would give a boost to domestic economy, create jobs and improve life conditions of the people. Highlighting grandiose exports, it is sought to give an impression of lots of revenues and increased production-sine qua non for strengthening economy. But what remains in the oblivion is the character of the economic system which is based on profit maximization of a handful of ruling monopoly houses and multi-nationals contingent upon maximum exploitation of the toiling millions.
For example, Hitler brought about an economic upswing initially by militarization which temporarily reduced unemployment and hence common Germans adored and backed him. But what is proved ultimately? It only fattened the purse of the moneybags, endangered the world and civilization with its horrendous war machine entailing colossal loss of human lives, massive destruction, slavery and misery. Moreover, the global capitalist-imperialist economy over the last 8-9 decades has become far more crisis-ridden because of the inherent laws of capitalism and now has no chance of revival, whatsoever the ‘panacea’ being prescribed. The Indian economy is also an inalienable part of global capitalist-imperialist economy and hence cannot remain unaffected by this soaring crisis. For example, as per latest media report, the defence sector provides jobs to around 29 lakh people. (newsbite 29-10-22) The point is that defence sector or arms manufacturing industry is not labour-intensive but a highly capital-intensive sophisticated one. Hence whatsoever growth is envisaged in this regard through a slew of measures like liberalizing FDI, giving thrust on export and desperate attempt to operationalize the ‘Make in India’ slogan, it cannot be a substitute for creation of remunerative permanent jobs to the millions upon millions of unemployed in productive sectors. Hence spurt in arms production is no route to solving the mammoth mounting unemployment problem. Rather it would worsen the situation and contribute more and more to fostering of war psychosis and engineering localized wars which in turn would make life more catastrophic for people. One might recall how common Indians suffered from famine, hoarding and black marketing of food articles, sudden spurt in price line and such other malaises during the Second World War. Since then, the rulers changed but not the rule of capital making life more and more unbearable. Decreased income, increasing job losses, mounting unemployment, soaring prices, growing pauperization, spurt in hunger and starvation deaths, malnutrition, homelessness, escalating migration problem are making life nightmarish for poor households. Women, youth, and low-wage and informal workers, especially those living in urban areas, are among the hardest hit. Inequality has been rising at an accelerated pace both within countries and between countries, with long-term impacts on access to opportunity and to social mobility. Over and above, people are suffering from baneful fallout of wars generated by the imperialists, unprecedented devastation wreaked by climate changes caused by global warming due to reckless emission of greenhouse gases and use of fossil fuel by the owners of industries to reap maximum profit. 207,156 Iraqi civilians were killed when US imperialists launched a devastating war of aggression on Iraq on a false pretext. About 6,10,000 precious lives have been lost as of March 2022 in the US-sponsored war in Syria. Thousands are dying in ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Besides death and destruction as well as keeping the air surcharged with tension, use of latest arms including weapons of mass destruction in the present day wars is also polluting the atmosphere. Hence there is nothing to rejoice at growing defence export, rather it is a matter of grave concern and portends a yet grimmer future.
But there is nothing to be surprised by it. Because, those who seek to view world events based on scientific method of analysis provided by Marxism-Leninism Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, Founder General secretary, SUCI(C), and an outstanding Marxist leader, thinker and philosopher, had shown way back in 1962 that ‘‘…precarious position of theirs is felt by the imperialists themselves and naturally they are making desperate attempts to get out of the burning pyre. They are trying to offset the difficulties by having recourse to frantic rearmament and militarization of industry and through more and more capitalist concentration. True, it is much like a drowning man catching at a straw. Nevertheless, the imperialists are doing all this to stave off the crisis and maintain the boom of the capitalist market, at least temporarily, by artificial stimulation of increased military consumption. But far from easing the situation, militarism is aggravating the capitalist contradictions and crisis further still. And the more acute the crisis, the more militarized is becoming the economy. There is thus a vicious cycle going on, leading to an unbridled arms race.’’ (Call of the Hour, SW Vol. II) He further elaborated in 1974 that ‘‘Faced with such a market crisis the capitalists in the advanced capitalist countries—and even in backward countries which are being reconstructed on the capitalist lines —on being confronted with such multifarious crises, are dovetailing the whole economy with the military economy. In other words, since a market boom cannot be sustained due to crisis, attempts are being made to stimulate it artificially….So, …They go on producing armaments, increasing military strength and building up defence industries. This very act of militarization of economy, fully dovetailing the productive system with military production—this is what we call militarization of industry…. the capitalists have no other way to keep capitalism somehow alive in the prevailing abysmal crisis….if their stockpiled weapons continue to be used up …it will it be possible for them to somehow keep up the ongoing militarization of industry. Otherwise, if such arms continue to get stockpiled, that is to say, they do not get a market to release these, it will not be possible for them to maintain the artificial boom in the market even through militarization of industries…. the bourgeois rulers of our country too are engaged in this conspiracy.’’ (Present Situation and Main Danger to Democratic Movement, SW Vol. IV))
DefExpo2022 has been a part of the overall scheme of ruling Indian monopolists and their trusted political managers like the BJP towards more and more militarization of the Indian economy.
(Source: Times of India, 09-07-22, drishtiias 09-07-22, Newson Air 02-08-22, Enterpreuner India 18-10-22, Business Standard 20-10-22

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