Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a seminar on Atmanirbhar Bharat in Defence Manufacturing via Video Conferencing. The virtual seminar was jointly organised by Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Department of Defence Production (DDP), Ministry of Defence (MoD). Stressing on the need to become Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) in defence manufacturing, the Prime Minister said our aim is to boost defence production, develop new technology and give significant roles to private players in the defence sector.
Complimenting Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his entire team for working on a mission mode and taking relentless efforts, the Prime Minister said that the objective of achieving self-reliance in defence production will definitely gain momentum soon.
Prime Minister Modi said when India became independent, it had a great potential and ecosystem for defence production in India but for decades no serious efforts were made. Mr. Modi remarked that the situation is now changing, continuous and persistent efforts are being undertaken to bring about reforms in the defence sector. He enumerated several concrete steps undertaken in this direction such as improvement in licensing process, creating level playing field, simplification of export process.
The Prime Minister observed that a sense of confidence in the defence sector is essential for building a modern and self-reliant India. Decisions such as appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, which were pending for decades have been taken now, which reflects confidence of New India. Appointment of Chief of Defence Staff has resulted in better synergy and coordination among the three forces, and has helped in the scaling up of defence procurement. Similarly, he highlighted that opening of defence sector by permitting 74% FDI via automatic route reflects the confidence of new India.
Prime Minister Modi said steps such as earmarking a part of the capital budget for domestic procurement, 101 items for domestic procurement will encourage and give a fillip to domestic defence industries. He also said that the Government is working on speeding up the procurement process, streamlining the system of testing etc. Speaking about Corporatization of Ordnance factories, 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 Indian Prime Minister said that in addition to Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO), Government is encouraging Research and Innovation in the private sector and in academic institutions as well. The Prime Minister mentioned that emphasis is on co-production through joint ventures with foreign partners.
Highlighting that the Government has been working on the mantra of ‘Reform, Perform, and Transform’, the Prime Minister said major reforms are underway in areas of Intellectual Property, Taxation, Insolvency and Bankruptcy, Space and Atomic Energy.
On the infrastructure initiatives, Mr. Modi spoke about two defence corridors underway in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. He said that 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 thousand crores in the next 5 years has been set for this.
Prime Minister Modi observed that the iDEX initiative which was launched to encourage entrepreneurs particularly those associated with MSME 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.
The Prime Minister said that the goal is 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” (self-reliance) 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, Mr. Modi said.
He said feedback and suggestions received on the Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy Draft will help in implementing this policy at the earliest.
Prime Minister observed that collective efforts will help in releasing our resolve to become self- reliant, to become an Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Script: Padam Singh, AIR: News Analyst