The defence FDI myth

| Updated on July 23, 2014

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Send your letters by email to bleditor@thehindu.co.in or by post to ‘Letters to the Editor’, The Hindu Business Line, Kasturi Buildings, 859-860, Anna Salai, Chennai 600002.

As a retired naval electrical officer I am surprised at your endorsement of 100 per cent FDI in defence manufacturing subject to some conditions (“Pseudo-swadeshi defence”, July 22). It is obvious you are under the impression that our heavy reliance on imports will vanish once we allow full ownership to foreign companies. This is a myth.

No country allows 100 per cent FDI in the defence industry. The reasons are obvious — friends today may not be friends tomorrow. Decisions on what state-of-art weapons can be sold or transferred are taken by governments, not companies and depend on security considerations.

Our heavy dependence on foreign sources is for platforms and systems such as aircraft, submarines, tanks and missiles. There is no way to ensure all of them set up shop in India along with the system integrator. Import content will still be high. Imposing conditions on progressive indigenisation before allowing full ownership is unlikely to work. Foreign companies will insist on guaranteed orders for quantities which may exceed our requirements besides foreclosing our options for better equipment from another source.

Given our education levels, economic strength and geopolitical threats, the need for weaponry of the latest technology for our defence forces needs to be questioned.

Battle outcomes depend on many factors besides technology: morale and leadership of men and operability, reliability and sustainability of the materiel. Therefore, while the frustration of the Government at the high import bill for defence is understandable, the solution is to get our ordnance factories, defence PSEs, DRDO laboratories and the private sector to act in concert.

S Prabhala


Correct the picture

The news item “Maximum customer grievances against SBI: ombudsman” (July 23) is misleading since it reports the absolute number of complaints. One of the variables that should be strongly correlated with the number of customer complaints is the number of customers of the bank.

More customers means more transactions and hence more possibilities for complaints. SBI has a large customer base, probably much more than that of IOB and Indian Bank.

To factor in the impact of customer count, the grievances must be reported as the number per 1000 customers.

Aravind Narasipur


Shocking attitude

The callous manner in which Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah made light of a rape incident in his home district of Mysore and snapped at the media by remarking, “Don't you have any work other than that? Is this the only news you have?” is shocking. Just last Friday, he had cut a sorry figure when television channels caught him napping in the Assembly during a debate on sexual offences against women.

Trivialising the issue of rape is inexcusable.

NJ Ravi Chander


Expanding opportunities

The RBI’s stringent regulatory framework to identify and deal with large banks, to be termed as domestic systematically important banks ( D-SIBs) on the basis of size that is beyond 2 per cent of GDP, is a landmark step towards ensuring renewed stability of the financial system. Large banks have immense potential to transform the Indian economy, and this is a way to capitalise on them for business expansion.

Srinivasan Umashankar


Bad idea

The RBI easing norms for loans against gold is a retrograde step, not good for the Indian economy. The removal of the ceiling of ₹1 lakh on non-farm gold loans will increase the liquidity available for gold and thereby attract more investment and demand for the commodity.

Gold imports rose by 65 per cent in June; this significantly contributed to a trade deficit of $11.76 billion. The Central bank must initiate steps to curtail investment in gold.

S Kalyanasundaram


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Published on July 23, 2014
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