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Indian defence exports surged in 2015

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Ministry Of Defence
New Delhi, March 28: As India focuses on enhancing domestic production of military hardware, a surge in its export was recorded in nine months to end-2015, with the net value touching almost $210 million (Rs.1,400 crore). According to the annual report of the defence ministry, the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and the private sector companies exported products worth Rs.1,397 crore from April to December 2015. The final figures for the fiscal ending March 31 are yet to be tabulated.

Exports in the financial year 2014-15 were valued at Rs.994 crore. “The trend in export shows phenomenal growth by the industry,” the defence ministry report said. It also lauded the role of private companies in the defence sector, stating that the exports by the sector had shown “accelerated growth” by 12-14 companies. The major destinations for defence exports from India include Afghanistan, Algeria, Belgium, Ecuador, Indonesia, Israel, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Sudan, Vietnam and the UK. Among the major items being exported are Offshore patrol vessels, spares for radars, Cheetal helicopters, turbo chargers and batteries, electronic systems, light engineering mechanical parts and personal protective items, which comprise articles like helmets, bulletproof jackets and other types of clothing. The report also observed that the online system for NoCs (No Objection Certificates) which was started in November 2014 is working satisfactorily. In August 2015, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for issuing NOCs for export of military stores by public or private defence industry were also revised. Under this, the requirement of an End User Certificate to be countersigned or stamped by the government authorities has been done away with for the export of items like parts, components or sub-systems. As the government promotes participation of private sector in defence manufacturing, the report also said that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has issued 319 Industrial Licences to 190 companies till January 2016. Of these, 50 companies with 79 licences have started production. The new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) envisages providing a boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, enhanced role for private sector, and promoting medium and small scale industries. It also has a new category of Buy Indian — Indigenous Design Development and Manufacturing under which indigenously designed equipment with 40 percent content will be procured. According to Sweden-based think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), between 2011 and 2015 India was the largest importer of arms, accounting for 14 percent of the global trade. It, however, does not appear prominently in the list of defence exporters, with the top slot being taken by the US, which accounts for 33 percent of global arms export, according to SIPRI. According to the Institute’s analysis, adding together the data that states have made available on the financial value of their arms exports, the estimated total value of the global arms trade in 2013 was at least $76 billion. It adds that the true figure is likely to be higher.

Credits: IANS

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Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)