By C Srikumar
What is the fourth force of the Defence of our Country? To defend the sovereignty and security of our Country we have the Army, Navy and Air Force, but then what is the fourth force. All of us know that war is fought in the battle field, but won through the Weapons, Ammunitions, keeping the troops comfortable to fight the battle in all odd situations with protective Uniforms and Clothing etc. The fourth force of Defence which the former Prime Minister late Rajeev Gandhi christened is the 41 Ordnance Factories which are the backbone of our Armed Forces. What does these Ordnance Factories does. Ordnance Factories have marched with time.
The relationship between Armed Forces and the Ordnance Factories is not that of a buyer and a seller. Ordnance Factories are temples of engineering and solution providers in the field of land systems. The Ordnance Factories have got the capacity and ability to absorb technology and today it has got core – competent in many field such as Precision Engineering, Metallurgy, Heavy Fabrication, High End Optical Processing, Chemical Process, High Energy Explosives, all types of Protective Clothing etc. Ordnance Factories are One – Stop provider of most land system solutions for Indian Army.
Ordnance Factories are the most dependable partner to support the Indian Armed Forces. OFB rose to the need of any critical situations. Ordnance Factories delivered whatever was required for the Indian Army during the Kargil Crisis. Ordnance Factories have delivered all types of personal protective equipments to the frontline warriors who are fighting against the spread of COVID-19 Virus. Ordnance Factories have developed many backward districts like Badmal in Odisha, Medak in the then United AP (now in Telangana), Chandrapur, Itarsi, Nalanda, Bhandara, Varangaon etc.
Many Ancillary Industries are developed by the Ordnance Factories thereby generating employment. The Workforce of the Ordnance Factories represents the entire country. Ordnance Factories unite India through the common thread of enhancing Defence Preparedness of our Country. Ordnance Factories are pioneer in many events. The first structured training through an Apprentice Training Scheme to make technical hands ready for the Industry happened at MTPF, Ambernath in 1953. Ordnance Factories was the pioneer in implementing Multi skilling in the Shop floor and also Information Technology.
People who do not know anything about Ordnance Factories propagate that Ordnance Factories are redundant and have become obsolete. It is a fact that it is the OFB which is the forerunner to achieve self reliance in Defence. Let us see how it has happened. OFB has successfully developed many items like Trichy Assault Rifles our own version of AK-47, Multi-Caliber Milap Carbine, Practice Version of Anti Submarine Rocket RGB-60 (Practice), RGB-12 for Indian Navy, Air lifting Apparatus for MI-17 Helicopters of Indian Air Force and Sea-King of Indian Navy, platform for AN-32 Air Craft, Long Barrel .32 Bore Revolver, Bullet Proof Vest and Jacket. OFB has also started indigenous production of T-90 Tank, MBT Arjun, Armored Ambulance, Pinaka Rocket, Night Sight for T-72 Tanks, Driver Night Sight for BMP-II, Kavach for Indian Navy, 100-120 Kg Aerial Bomb for India Air Force etc. etc.
Inspite of all the above achievements of the Ordnance Factories, Ordnance Factories are always subjected to false criticism and many vested interested and paid writers who claim themselves as Defence Experts go on writing Articles in favour of privatizing the Ordnance Factories. The Advisors of the Government sitting in the Defence Ministry’s Office in South Block who never want to change themselves but expects all others should change. The whole Country knows that many of the Retired Generals are on the pay rolls of the Private Sector who want to penetrate into the Defence Production area. Many of the so called Defence Expert writes against the Ordnance Factories without even visiting a single Ordnance Factory and without understanding under what conditions the Workers of these Factories are working. But like super specialists they have all types of prescriptions for the Ordnance Factories.
These elements only must have misguided the Prime Minister also. The Prime Minister in his address in the 13th Episode of “Mann Ki Baat 2.0” on 28th of June, 2020 has said the following.
“Friends, before indecent in the realm of the Defence Sector, our Country was ahead of Countries in the World. There used to be a multitude of Ordnance Factories. Many Countries that lagged behind as then, are ahead of us now, after independence we should have made efforts in the Defence Sectors taking advantage of our prior experience……….. we did not. But today, in the fields of Defence and Technology, India is relentlessly endeavoring to advance to those fronts ………… India is taking strides towards self reliance.”
The above speech of the Prime Minister gives a picture as if that for the past 70 years Ordnance Factories have done nothing for the Defence of our Country. If it is a fact, then how all the wars including the Bangladesh liberation war and the Kargil Crisis, the Indian Army fought and won the battles. It is only with the help of the Military Equipments manufactured by the Indian Ordnance Factories.
Many self claimed Defence Experts recommend for Corporatization of the Ordnance Factories, but these people also criticizes Defence PSUs like HAL for its long time taken for the LPA. These people know any to criticize each and everything, they do not have any new ideas and these people suffer from mental health problems.
The Government inspite of the opposition by the workforce of the Ordnance Factories is proceeding with its wrong decision to corporatize the Ordnance Factories. It is now in the process of appointing a consultant to recommend the modalities for converting the Ordnance Factories into a single Corporation or multiple Corporations. Let us discuss about the antecedents of many of the consultants in our Country. The entire Country witnessed the tainted role of the Price Water House Cooper Company Limited in the case of Satyam Computers. The Partner of this company was arrested and jailed for his alleged involvement in the Satyam fraud.
The Terms of Reference for the Consultant was made in a hasty manner only with the intention to somehow get recommendations from them to corporatize the Ordnance Factories. The people who drafted the Terms of Reference themselves are a confused lot because there is no clarity in the Terms of Reference between strategy and operating performance. The Government is claiming that to achieve self reliance and innovation they are corporatizing the Ordnance Factories, but the same is no where mentioned in the Terms of Reference. Apart from this there is all possibility that any Private consultant involved in this task will expose the Defence Secrets of the Country, since there is no non-disclosure provision in the RFP floated by the Government. People doubt that there are possibilities of the consultant leaking vital informations to the people who are hostile to the interest of our Country.
As the Federations have correctly told the Government, these are all only drama and eye wash. The ultimate object of the Government to corporatize the Ordnance Factories is to only privatize the Organization despite tall claims of the Government. The Terms of Reference itself very clearly says that what the consultant should recommend. The ideas are already given to the consultant in the RFP document. Giving them the mandate that what they should right in their report. The consultant’s job is only to collect huge amount of tax payers’ money and write some good English and put his rubber stamp. This is the reason why the workforce of Ordnance Factories and their Federations have rejected the decision of the Government to appoint a consultant and they are justified in telling the Government that there will be serious unrest resulting in disturbance of Defence Production in case the consultant appointed by the Defence Ministry visits the Ordnance Factories and OFB Headquarters, because the employees are very much agitated and upset.
The Retired Generals, Brigadiers and the paid Academic Writers feel happy in defaming the image of the Indian Ordnance Factories. The people of the Country and the workforce will not tolerate these types of false and fabricated fictions. The people of this Country and the workforce wanted a stronger, empowered, innovative, efficient and technology driven Ordnance Factories contributing to the Defence Preparedness of the Country by synergy with designer and the user. They would love to see the Ordnance Factories gaining global prominent for its contemporary products and also by providing solutions for the Armed Forces. This cannot be achieved by converting the Ordnance Factories into a Public Sector and then slowly disposing it off to the hands of Private Sector. (IPA Service)