On 20 March 2022, the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released the draft version of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2020. The DPP, as it is commonly referred to, provides the guidelines for all capital acquisitions to be made by the Ministry of Defence including the Armed Forces.
The DPP was first introduced in 2002 to provide probity, transparency and a structured procedure which would streamline the procurement of military hardware for the Armed Forces in a time bound manner. While the DPP has definitely succeeded in introducing probity and transparency and has greatly diminished the influence of shady arms dealers much to the benefit of the system and the Armed forces, the rigidity of the procedure has been detrimental to the acquisition process.
The DPP has been a work in progress since its initiation in 2002 and though successive iterations in 2006, 2008. 2011, 2013 and 2016 have ‘improved’ upon the initial document; the results have flattered to deceive.
An initial glance through the latest document brings to the fore several obvious issues, some of which are highlighted below:
Firstly, the document itself. Successive versions of the document have become increasingly voluminous and consequently more complex to understand and interpret. From a 200-odd page document in 2012, it increased to 400 odd pages in its 2016 version and the 2020 version will perhaps be even longer (the draft released on 20 March is a staggering 748 pages).
This, of course, could be to spell things out in greater detail thus attempting to simplify its comprehension but whether it actually does so Indigenous manufacture will only become evident once the document is studied in greater detail.
The second issue relates to the content. One finds at first glance that various new features have been introduced. A new category, ‘Buy (Global -Manufacture in India) has been added to the five previous ones.