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What is Shekatkar report, defence ministry’s first order of business after lockdown

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a meeting Monday to review the status of the Shekatkar report’s implementation. The report has never been made public.

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New Delhi: After nearly a month in lockdown, the Ministry of Defence sprang into action Monday with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh undertaking a high-level review of the recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee on reforming the armed forces.

The meeting was attended by Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh, Air Force head Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria, Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar.

The Shekatkar Committee was set up by former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, and submitted its report in December 2016. The report, which is now the guiding principle for ongoing defence reforms, has never been made public, because it covers operational aspects of the armed forces, and its disclosure is not in the interests of national security.

ThePrint takes a look at the key recommendations made by the report.

Also read: Narendra Modi govt wants a strong military, but its defence budget can’t guarantee that

Slew of reforms

The defence ministry is in the process of implementing a slew of reforms suggested by the committee, headed by Lt Gen. D.B. Shekatkar (retd), which studied how to make the armed forces much leaner, cohesive and modern.

Initially, the ministry had considered the report and sent 99 recommendations to the armed forces for making an implementation plan.

In August 2017, then-defence minister Arun Jaitley had approved 65 recommendations pertaining to the Indian Army for implementation.

According to a 2017 report, the Shekatkar Committee had recommended that India’s defence budget should be in the range of 2.5 to 3 per cent of the GDP, keeping in mind possible future threats.

It had also suggested the establishment of a Joint Services War College for training for middle-level officers, even through the three separate war colleges — Mhow, Secunderabad and Goa — could continue to train younger officers for their respective services.

It had also recommended that the Military Intelligence School at Pune be converted to a tri-service intelligence training establishment.

The first phase of the reforms approved by Jaitley involves redeployment and restructuring of approximately 57,000 posts of officers/JCOs/ORs and civilians.

The report also focuses on optimisation of Signals establishments to include radio monitoring companies, corps air support signal regiments, air formation signal regiments, composite signal regiments, and merger of corps operating and engineering signal regiments.

It included restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include base workshops, advance base workshops and static/station workshops in the field Army.

It also called for the closure of military farms and army postal establishments in peace locations, which is among the recommendations already implemented.

Also read: Not media, CDS Rawat should be talking to military chiefs about India’s defence reform


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