Numerous initiatives to promote domestic defence industry are not only aimed at making India self-reliant in production of military hardware and systems but also to progressively supply them to the entire world, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday (August 28).
In an address to top executives of leading defence firms, Singh said it is important that India’s military power is based on indigenous technology which will enable it to exercise “strategic autonomy”.
The defence minister also assured the domestic defence industry that the government will extend all possible support to them in research and development of world-class equipment and weapons.
“We not only want to implement Make in India but also want to achieve the goal of Make for World,” he said.
The government has unveiled a number of policy initiatives in the last few months aimed at boosting domestic defence production including banning import of 101 weapons and military platforms like transport aircraft, light combat helicopters and cruise missiles by 2024 under a staggered timeline.
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“Numerous initiatives undertaken by the government have enabled this transition. We want to be self-sufficient to make a more constructive contribution to the development of India and the entire world,” Singh said at the seminar jointly organised by FICCI and the Defence Ministry.
The defence minister said the technology will drive capability and countries with cutting-edge technologies will lead the world in future.
“We are extremely confident that the Indian industry has the wherewithal and tremendous manufacturing capability. It has also invested in research and development of defence products and is capable of producing world-class weapons and equipment,” he said.
Speaking about the urge of nations to become self-reliant, the defence minister said, “The spirit of self-reliance has always been present in our society, our education and values. It has existed as part of us, from our tradition to modern times.”
“It has existed from the Vedas to Vivekananda ji, from the Geeta to Gandhi ji, and from Upanishads to (Deendayal) Upadhyay ji. Everyone, whether they have been our great men or our governments, in their own way accepted the importance of self-reliance,” he said.
“But in the recent past, the emphasis placed on the call of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Atmanirbhar is unprecedented,” he added.
The defence minister said the government is committed to “hand-holding” the defence industry in every possible manner.
“We have opened our firing ranges and trial facilities to the private sector for conducting tests. Our draft DPEPP 2020 has numerous incentives and opportunities for the Indian industry,” he said.
The draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) lists several measures to boost domestic defence manufacturing.
“In this quest for Aatmanirbharta (self-reliance) we are open to all kinds of suggestions and policy reforms which will empower and enable our industry to produce world-class equipment and weapons,” the defence minister said.
India is one of the largest importers of arms globally. According to estimates, the Indian armed forces are projected to spend around USD 130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years. The government now wants to reduce dependence on imported military platforms and has decided to support domestic defence manufacturing.
The Defence Ministry has set a goal of a turnover of USD 25 billion (₹1.75 lakh crore) in defence manufacturing in the next five years that includes an export target of USD 5 billion (₹35,000 crore) worth of military hardware.
Speaking on the occasion, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said the government will soon issue a request for proposal (RFP) for the mega submarine project under the strategic partnership model.
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It is learnt that the Defence Ministry has shortlisted two Indian shipyards and five foreign defence majors for the ₹50,000 crore project to build six conventional submarines in India for the Navy.
The mega project is being implemented under the ambitious strategic partnership model under which select private firms are being roped in to build military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with original equipment maker.