Land acquisition Ordinance
Incentivising private investment in Defence and Internal Security
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi clearly indicating no climb down on the proposed Land Acquisition Bill, already promulgated through an Ordinance, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took the Opposition, in particular the Congress to task for creating an atmosphere “Where infrastructure and industry become bad words.”
Arguing forcefully for His Master’s pet project, he invoked national security concerns to silence the Opposition into submitting to the will of the Government which seeks to demolish the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, never mind that at that point of time all including the then main Opposition, the BJP had vehemently supported and demanded more concessions for the farmers. While proposing the Motion of Thanks to the Presidential address on February 26, 2015, Jaitley condemned the then UPA government for not listing national security and defence projects among those to be exempted from the purview of the Act. He thus stressed on National Security as an urgent reason for acquiring land from farmers without bothering about seeking their consent.
National Security and Defence is the best stick the BJP succeeds in beating its critics with, as and when it is pushed into a corner. It leaves those opposing the BJP vulnerable and speechless for fear of being labeled unpatriotic.
Sometime back a Homeland Security Fair was held in NOIDA where notable security entrepreneurs from Israel, USA and South Africa showcased their products and big names among the Indian corporate giants evinced interest in joining these multi-national security apparatus companies that have or propose to set up shop here. One of them is Holon-based company, which put up its unit in Ahmedabad in 2010, under Narendra Modi as the chief minister of Gujarat. The company manufactures Tyre killers and Bollards and offers “perimeter protection solutions.” Reminding of the medieval torture chambers, this apparatus is meant to shred any object including a human being into unrecognizable ribbon like objects. The COO of the company is a retired Major of the Indian Army trained in Israel.
Manisha Sethi in her recently published book ‘Kafkaland’ gives us a glimpse of the fast proliferating security industry in India in the following words: “The cavernous interiors of the NOIDA Expo building are filled with companies – British, Israeli, Korean, Taiwanese and Indian multinationals such as Godrej—peddling a plethora of wares. Bollards are a favourite, Tyre killers and Biometric technology are hot too—but the winner hands down is the CCTV camera.
Whatever might be Jaitley’s accusations against the UPA government, the fact remains that “In 2011-12 the Union Defence Budget comprised 1.8 per cent of the total GDP, whereas the Defence Acquisition Council, the source of Defence Planning envisaged even in UPA regime the allocation for Defence to touch three per cent of the GDP,” says Sethi.
Jaitely may accuse the UPA government of being unmindful of India’s Defence concerns, but the facts bely his spin because in absolute terms the outlays for Defence far exceed the allocations for social welfare programmes. Its share in terms of expenditure has been higher than the combined spending on health and family welfare, school education and literacy schemes, higher education and rural welfare. Pressing for more direct action, Defence analysts, Security experts and the Corporate sector have been pressing the Government to emulate the US-Israel “military industrial” model.
In 2001, the last NDA government of Atal Behari Vajpayee itself opened the field for private sector with added foreign component to enter the Defence industry allowing 100 per cent participation of private sector with 26 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) and thus making the Indian Ordnance factories spread all over the country, progressively redundant.
You name it and all the Indian big players be it Tatas, Reliance, Mahindras, Piramal, Essaar, are now participating in this game of Defence and Internal security. Mahindras have launched Mahindra Defence Systems and Mahindra Aerospace. Reliance India Limited (RIL) of Mukeshbhai Ambani is set to “Design, develop, manufacture equipment and components including airframes, engines, radars avionics and accessories for military and civilian aircraft, helicopters, unmanned airborne vehicles (UAV) and aerostats. RIL has set aside US $ one billion for initial investment in this sector.
Rossell Tea Limited has metamorphosed into Rossell India Ltd ready to enter Defence and Aerospace sector in collaboration with a Canadian partner, named CAE “to provide simulation solutions to the Indian defence market.” Pharma manufacturer Piramal too have entered the Defence field in collaboration with Israel’s Bluebird Aero Systems.
Capitalising on the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008, the ASSOCHAM organsied “India’s only integrated Homeland Security and Defence systems event. Barely a fortnight after the attacks, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) organized a national conference on national security and terrorism in Delhi, attended by the who’s who of the security establishment: B Raman, Ajit Doval, Brijesh Mishra among others, recalled Manisha Sethi, adding further ahead, “India Inc had pronounced the era of Mumbai terror…The Mumbai carnage triggered an unprecedented demand for security solutions… The FICCI conference was only the first…Internal Security long the preserve of the Ministry of Home Affairs, mutated into Homeland Security dividing among themselves the … spoils that were to be had from this unprecedented expansion of market that 26/11 had spurred. There was suddenly a glut of reports and papers accounting the monies to be made from this unexpected opportunity,” says Sethi.
Finally she details that in the vision of FICCI “The role of each agency and institution is clearly defined: the private sector to develop technologies of discipline and surveillance; the government to create the pseudo-legal apparatus of this techno security state; and the civil society to create a pliant and disciplined citizenry.”
This is the road map Modi-Jaitley are seeing ahead and are naturally incensed when the Opposition tries to stall the proposed Land Acquisition Bill which will incentivize the worthies of FICCI, ASSOCHAM and CII to come forward and invest in the Defence of the nation.
Land acquisition Ordinance