Two decades after the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) and the consequent Group of Ministers recommended the creation of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), and eight years after the Naresh Chandra Committee recommended a permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, the Indian government instituted the first CDS in January 2020.
Tasked essentially with promoting inter-service jointry and giving much-needed fillip to defence modernisation through timely and optimal defence acquisitions, the first incumbent to the post, General Bipin Rawat, has not given a lackadaisical performance, however contentious his initiatives have turned out to be so far.
His latest desire to win a war for India by employing indigenous weaponry, though laudable, is easier said than done, given the large gap that exists between the state-of-the-art and homegrown capabilities. Serious limitations exist in our indigenous defence capability, more so in the arena of advanced avionics, aerial weaponry and other cutting-edge technologies, such as aircraft carriers and main battle tanks.
The fact that the government chose to have a ‘first among equals’ four-star CDS rather than a five-star one as recommended by the KRC, would in the long term impinge on the effectiveness of the new dispensation.
Be that as it may, perhaps it is premature to judge whether the CDS idea was a good one or not. Three areas of prime concern comprising his charter will be analysed herein: jointry, acquisitions and administration.