New Delhi. Asserting that the concept of Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) was not inward looking but would promote a stable global order and further world peace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on August 27 this would encourage the country’s domestic industry to play a greater role in the defence manufacturing sector.
“Atmanirbhar Bharat will make the global economy resilient and stable, and will work towards world peace,” he said while addressing the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat – Defence Industry Outreach Webinar’ jointly organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Defence Ministry’s Department of Military Affairs (DMA).
The ultimate goal, the Prime Minister said, was to build a capable India to make the global economy more resilient, more stable and to bring peace in the world. This is the idea behind Atmanirbharta in defence manufacturing. India has the potential to become a reliable supplier of defence equipment to many of its friendly nations. It will strengthen India’s strategic partnerships and strengthen India’s role as a “net security provider” in the Indian Ocean region, Modi said.
“India has for long been a big importer of defence equipment. India has the potential but it is very far away from other countries in defence production. Unfortunately, earlier India never focused on this sector,” Modi said, adding: “In the last few years, we have been making all attempts to boost manufacturing in this sector and promoting private sector participation. We have taken various reform measures and it will continue,” Modi said.
Complimenting Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his entire team for working in a mission mode, the Prime Minister said that the objective of achieving self-reliance in defense production will definitely gain momentum from the seminar.
The Prime Minister said when India became independent, it had a great potential and ecosystem for defense production but for decades no serious efforts were made. The situation is now changing and continuous and persistent efforts are being undertaken to bring about reforms in the defence sector. He also enumerated several concrete steps undertaken in this direction such as improvement in licensing process, creating a level playing field and simplifying the export process.
Modi said that a sense of confidence in the defense sector is essential for building a modern and self-reliant India. Decisions such as appointment of a CDS (Chief of Defence Staff), which were pending for decades have now been taken, which reflects the confidence of a New India.
The appointment of the CDS has resulted in better synergy and coordination among the three armed forces, and has helped in the scaling up of defence procurement. Similarly, he highlighted that opening of the defence sector by permitting 74 per cent FDI (Foreign Domestic Investment) via the automatic route reflects the confidence of a new India.
“For long, FDI was not allowed in the defence sector. Our government has made changes. For the first time, 74 percent of FDI has been allowed. We have opened the doors.”
Modi said steps such as earmarking a part of the capital budget for domestic procurement and declaring 101 items for domestic procurement will encourage domestic defence industries. He also said that the government is working on speeding up the procurement process, and streamlining the system of testing, among others.
Speaking about corporatization of Ordnance Factories, the Prime Minister said once completed, it will strengthen both the workers and the Defence sector.
Emphasizing on the need for technology up-gradation for self-sufficiency in modern equipment, the Prime Minister said that in addition to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the government is encouraging Research and Innovation in the private sector and in academic institutions as well, with the emphasis being on co-production through joint ventures with foreign partners.
On the infrastructure initiatives, the Prime Minister spoke about two defence corridors underway in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. He said the state-of-the -art infrastructure is being built in collaboration with the state government of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. An investment target of Rs. 20,000 crore ($24 million) in the coming five years has been set for this.
Modi observed that the iDEX (Innovations for Defence Excellence) initiative, which was launched to encourage entrepreneurs particularly those associated with MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) and Start-ups, is also getting positive results. Through this platform, more than 50 start-ups have developed technology and products for military use, he noted.
Collective efforts will help in releasing India’s resolve to become self- reliant, and to become Atmanirbhar Bharat, the prime minister concluded.
This article was published by India Strategic on August 27, 2020.