India Needs Two-Fold Policy to Solve Kashmir Issue: Lt Gen. Subrata Saha

In an exclusive interaction with The Policy Times, Lt Gen Subrata Saha shares his views on policymaking in India, India’s defence preparation and potential of defence manufacturing and on Kashmir, Pakistan, and China.

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India Needs Two-Fold Policy to Solve Kashmir Issue: Lt Gen Subrata Saha
Principal Adviser, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII): Lt Gen. Subrata Saha

Lt Gen Subrata Saha, PVSM, UYSM, YSM, VSM is former Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Planning & System), Indian Army & Director General, Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) & Principal Adviser, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

As Deputy Chief of the Army, he was responsible for long-term perspective planning, capability development and modernization of the Indian Army. His operational experience includes GOC 15 Corps, leading all military operations in Kashmir, GOC Infantry Division in Strike Corps, Brigade Commander on the Line of Control in Kashmir, Counter-Insurgency in Assam and Punjab and Siachen Glacier. He led disaster management operations as a Battalion Commander during the Super Cyclone in 1999 and more recently as Corps Commander during floods in Kashmir in 2014.

In an exclusive interaction with The Policy Times, Lt Gen Subrata Saha shares his views on policymaking in India, India’s defence preparation and potential of defence manufacturing and on Kashmir, Pakistan, and China. 

Question: How do we simplify policymaking for the common mass? How do we sensitize policy issues to common mass?

Answer: Somewhere there is a sort of disconnect between policymakers and the common mass. There is an issue of language along with the translation. Most policy directions are little too complicated for the common masses and even if they are in several languages like – If it is in English obviously it is not a language of every common man and if it is translated into Hindi or any other language, the content itself or the words that are used are rather complicated for a common man. Therefore, somewhere there is a requirement of simplifying the content. Once the content gets simplified then language obviously will follow to accommodate the change. To be a part of policy making, we need to be able to comprehend, issues for which two things are very important. First, there must be some level of education and second, there must be some interest in policy.

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In India or anywhere in the world, the first news that attracts a common man is local news. If you see newspapers today including national dailies, the number of pages devoted to local new is substantial. Because that’s the news that affects the common man most. The policy has to be more focused on the common man’s interest. So if we were to consider greater cooption of common masses in policy, three things are important:

  1. Simplify the content and language
  2. Make it more relevant 
  3. Raise the level of education

Question: How do we increase participation of common mass in Policy making and implementation?

Answer: You require some platforms or medium through which the common mass can connect with the government, for example, Civil Society Groups, Industry Associations, Think Tanks or Academia. There are multiple forums like television debate, blogs,  stakeholder consultations and so on.

Question: China, from an arms importer, became an arms exporter. We are still talking. Where do we stand in arms production?

Answer: The Make in India initiative was announced by PM Narendra Modi from the Red Fort on 15th August 2014. The first policy document that came out with respect to the Defence Sector was the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016, it was promulgated in March 2016. In the preamble itself, the two defining features were articulated – (1) Indigenization and (2) the promotion of MSMEs. If you take the first one ie. Indigenization, they put into policy something called Indian Design, Developed and Manufactured (IDDM). The policy said that IDDM will be the highest category for procurement. If the product is designed and developed in India, you need 40% indigenous content. Even if it is not designed and developed in India but manufactured in India, you need 60% indigenous content. That is how the preference is given for products ideally to be designed and developed in India, if not at least manufactured in India.

Recently, the Draft Defence Production Policy has been put in the open domain. It has articulated very clearly that by 2025 in thirteen segments, we will achieve self-reliance. By 2025, we should have a turnaround of INR 1,70,000 crore in defence which would involve an additional investment of INR 70,000 and create 2 to 3 million jobs. What is important now is focused implementation of policy.

Question: Pakistan and Kashmir both are in a mess while China is capitalizing it to wage a two-front war against India. What is the solution for Kashmir?

Answer: In Kashmir, there is a concerted drive. On the one side, we have the interlocutor trying to connect with different groups and on the other side, the security forces are on an overdrive. In any situation like this, our strategy has to be two-fold. One is to minimize the sense of militancy in the environment or reduce the sense of alienation and the second is to undertake measures to reduce the number of militants. Both hard power and soft power have to complement each other as the stage is set for substantial dialogue.