People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 29, 2007
‘Scrap Kelkar Committee Report’
Declaration By Convention Of Defence Employees
THE Convention of the Organisations of Defence PSUs, Ordnance Factories, DRDO, DGQA etc. in a meeting held on April 21-22, 2007, in Bangalore strongly opposed the Kelkar Commtitee Report on Defence Industries of the country.
The convention, held at Ghatge Convention hall in HAL, was a historic occasion when associations/unions of Ordnance factories, DRDO, DGQA and defence public sector undertakings came together to defend self-reliance in defence industry. The convention as inaugurated by M K Pandhe, president, CITU and addressed by H Mahadevan, deputy general secretary, AITUC, S N Pathak, president AIDEF, C Srikumar, Saila Bhattacharya, general secretaries, AIDEF, Sanjay Safari, president, Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh, D Ananthpadmanabha, JAF coordinator, Banglaore-based PSUs and D N Sudershan, Coordination Committee of Hyderabad PSUs. More than 250 delegates attended the convention.
Dipankar Mukherjee, secretary, CITU, presented a background paper on Kelkar Committee, following which the delegates participated in the two-day deliberations. The convention noted with deep concern that inspite of the strong opposition of employees in defence sector, the UPA government is going ahead with part implementation of the Kelkar Commtitee Report which is against the self-reliance of the country and is aimed at dismantling of public assets of defence industries by facilitating entry of chosen private corporate sector, backed by MNCs, into defence production and related activities including R&D, QA etc.
The convention unequivocally demanded the scrapping of the report for following reasons:
Terms of reference was flawed as import-substitution for enhancing self-reliance – so vital for the country – was mixed up with boost for defence exports. The goal of making self-reliant defence systems was relegated in favour of commercial defence business for the benefit of private corporates, backed by foreign MNCs.
The constitution of the committee was seriously lop-sided in favour of private sector. The competitors of public sector in private sector were in the committee thus having a clear conflict of interest. This itself poses a question mark on the credibility of such a one-sided report, which naturally has been devoted to highlight the achievements and strength of the few private companies, ignoring and some time ridiculing the achievements of infrastractural capabilities and expertise available with government-run defence industries and R&D. Not a single trade union/association representative of employees, who are the major stakeholders, was included in the committee. On this score alone the report needs to be scrapped.
Security perception, so vital for nature of preparedness of armed forces vis-à-vis long-term production/ acquisition of programme and defence system is totally missing. No evaluation has been made to assess strength, weakness, opportunity and threat to the existing defence industries, infrastructure, expertise and R&D. No exercise has been undertaken in the report either at macro level or at micro level for achieving self-reliance with technological upgradation and R&D input to achieve optimal capacity utilisation in public sector defence industry to address India’s security needs.
Kelkar Committee Report unabashedly pleads for entry of private sector at every level, not as a supplementary player, but as a major player, creating “Raksha Utpadan Ratna” in private sector. This would mean that public funds are assured to private sector in the name of R&D for earning profit through defence exports that too with tax concession.
Private sector would be mostly in collaboration with foreign firms under the cover of Indian private sector. Defence MNCs would be given clear entry in the most strategic area of the country. This will jeopardise nation’s security. With the spectre of terrorism looming large, free access to private sector– both Indian and foreign – in arms and ammunition manufacturing would be a serious security hazard for the country.
The convention therefore with one voice wanted the Kelkar Commtitee Report to be scrapped –– lock, stock and barrel. The convention called upon the government to make internal assessment of public sector defence organisations in consultation with trade union/associations to make them real centres for self-reliant defence sector in India.
The convention decided to form a “Trade Union Forum For Self Reliance In Defence”. It called upon all defence trade unions/associations to observe May 9, 2007 as “Scrap Kelkar Commtitee Report Day”. The convention called upon all trade unions/associations to conduct conventions and seminars at all important centres demanding scrapping of Kelkar Commtitee Report. (INN)