Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Aero India show mired in competitive politics

Bengaluru  is the best address on India's defence infrastructure map. Apart from the Karnataka and Kerala sub-area of the Army and Training Command of the Indian Air Force, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) along with other defence PSUs have bases here. So do several laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Department of Space is based here along with the offices of several departments working closely with the Ministry of Defence. The first defence industrial production corridor (DIPC) is coming on the Bengluru-Chennai sector. While the ever-lucky Bengaluru would again host the 2019 Aero India show, the protests and bargaining by a few states expose issues about defence, development and public policy choices that need debate. 

Bengaluru exemplifies how politics of development plays upon regional sentiments where competition for resources overrides other considerations. The city has benefited from the Aero India shows, held at the Yelahanka Air Force Station since 1996. The aerospace and aviation industries have matured along with ancillary sectors in defence manufacturing, best reflected in the Light Combat Aircraft project. The Aero India polemics, nevertheless, only reflects perpetuation of development for some regions and underdevelopment for others and the resultant resistance to reform proposals.
11/09/18 Bhartendu Kumar Singh/Tribune