Only domestically manufactured weapons can give uniqueness to services, PM Modi tells industry leaders

Encouraging industry leaders to boost defence manufacturing within the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that only if the country develops its own weapons, it can maintain uniqueness which is important for the nation’s security. He urged them to view it as an “act of patriotism” and “service to the nation” and think about making the country stronger, and then about profits.

He was addressing a webinar on self-reliance in defence about the budgetary provisions for the defence sector.

“The basic principle of security is that you should have your own customised and unique system, only then it will help you. If ten countries have the same type of defence equipment, then your armies will have no uniqueness. Uniqueness and surprise element can be brought only if the equipment is developed in your own country.”

“When we bring weapons from outside, it’s process is so long that by the time they reach our security forces, many of them have become outdated,” Modi stated.

He encouraged the industry to leverage India’s information technology prowess, calling it country’s “great strength”. “The more we use this power in our defence, the more confident we will be in our security.” Citing the example of cyber security, he said, even it has become a “weapon of war” and “a matter of national security”.

He said that this year’s budget “has a blueprint for developing a vibrant ecosystem from research, design and development to manufacturing within the country” and has set aside nearly 70 per cent of the capital allocation for the domestic industry. He mentioned that since nearly 200 items were put under negative imports list in the last two years contracts worth Rs 54 thousand crore have been signed for domestic procurement, and apart from that the “the procurement process related to equipment worth more than Rs 4.5 lakh crore is also in different stages.” He said a third positive indigenisation list will be announced soon.

The government, he said, has issued 350 new industrial licences for defence manufacturing in the last seven years, compared to 200 such licences that were issued between 2001 and 2014.

He also said that the private sector should be at par with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), for which 25 per cent of the defence R&D budget has been earmarked for the private sector, including the industry, start-ups and academia. He mentioned that a Special Purpose Vehicle model has also been arranged in the budget, which will “establish the role of the private industry as a partner beyond just a vendor or supplier”.

He said that the ordnance factories, which were corporatised last year and seven new DPSUs were created are expanding business rapidly and reaching new markets. “Export orders are also being taken. It is also very pleasant that in the last five to six years, we have increased defence exports by six times. Today we are providing Made in India defence equipment and services to more than 75 countries,” he said.

Speaking later, defence minister Rajnath Singh said that he was confident that in the near future “we will see many projects being undertaken by the private industry for design and development of military platforms and equipment in collaboration with DRDO and other organizations through the SPV model.” He said creating a Made in India brand “also necessitates rigorous testing, trials of Indian products as per international standards” and for meeting “the wide-ranging requirements of trial, testing and certification, the government has decided to set up an independent nodal umbrella body.”

The government’s commitment, Singh said, “towards reduction in imports and modernise our armed forces with our indigenous technology has been given further impetus in this budget,” and added that he was sure that the “domestic industry is fully capable to absorb this enhanced budget.”

“I assure them that the government will continue its pro industry policy initiatives for promoting Make in India with greater zeal,” Singh told the industry leaders.

He also announced that to promote industry-led R&D efforts, he will sanction at least five projects under Make-1 during the financial year 2022-23. He also said that a monitoring mechanism under DG-Acquisition will be created, with representatives from all the three services to monitor the budget earmarked, specifically for private industry and start-ups, so that it is fully utilised. Quality Assurance process will be reformed so that it is non-intrusive, prevention based and “free from inspector-Raj”. Also, under Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) prime, the government will support projects by up to Rs 10 crore, to help start-ups in the defence sector.

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