Tuesday 28 June 2022
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Modi stresses importance of indigenously developed weapons

The prime minister said the defence budget had the blueprint for developing a vibrant ecosystem in the country, encompassing research, design, development and manufacturing

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said customisation and uniqueness of military hardware were critical to hold the advantage of surprise over India’s adversaries. The prime minister said it could be achieved only if weapons and systems were developed in the country.

“If 10 countries have defence equipment of the same type, then your armed forces will have no uniqueness. For uniqueness and surprise element, military equipment has to be developed in our own country,” Modi said in his inaugural address at a defence ministry seminar on Atmanirbharta in Defence — Call to Action.

The seminar was organised in the backdrop of the recent defence budget that boosted indigenisation.

Modi said that controversies and allegations of kickbacks were once linked to imported weapons due to competition among foreign vendors who often launched campaigns to target the products of their rivals. “This created confusion, doubts and even opened doors for corruption. A lot of confusion was created over which weapon is good, which is not…which is useful and which is not. Atmanirbharta is the solution to this problem too,” he said.

The prime minister said India would soon notify a new list of weapons and systems that cannot be imported to promote self-reliance in the defence sector. This will be the third positive indigenisation list — the government has already notified two lists of 209 weapons and equipment that cannot be imported.

These include artillery guns, missile destroyers, ship-borne cruise missiles, light combat aircraft, light transport aircraft, long-range land-attack cruise missiles, basic trainer aircraft, multi-barrel rocket launchers, rifles, sniper rifles, mini-UAVs, specified types of helicopters, next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) systems, engines and medium-range surface to air missile systems.

The prime minister said after the first two lists were notified, the government had signed contracts worth Rs 54,000 crore for domestic arms procurement, and deals worth Rs 4.5 lakh crore were in the works. He said the process of importing weapons was long and in some cases, the military hardware would become outdated by the time it reached the armed forces. “Atmanirbharta and Make in India is the solution,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi said the defence budget for 2022-23 had the blueprint for developing a vibrant ecosystem in the country, encompassing research, design and development and manufacturing, highlighting that almost 70% of the capital expenditure was kept aside for domestic procurement.

No nation can acquire the requisite military capability by depending primarily on imports, said former Northern commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd). “It is clear that countries will not part with their latest military technology without extracting political costs. Therefore, indigenisation is not only a military requirement but also a political necessity,” Hooda said.

On 1 February, India earmarked Rs 84,598 crore, which is 68 % of the military’s capital acquisition budget, for purchasing locally produced weapons and systems to boost self-reliance in the defence sector, besides setting aside 25% of the defence R&D budget for private industry, start-ups and academia to encourage them to pursue design and development of military platforms. India allocated Rs 5.25 lakh crore for military spending in this year’s budget.

“Defence exports have recorded a six-fold increase in the last five to six years. Today, we are providing Made in India defence equipment and services to more than 75 countries,” the prime minister said.

In his valedictory address, defence minister Rajnath Singh said a monitoring mechanism would be created under director general-acquisition, with representatives from all three services, to ensure that the budget that is marked for the private industry and start-ups is fully utilised.

“We have been progressively increasing the capital procurement budget for the domestic industry. I am sure that the domestic industry is fully capable of absorbing 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 said.

India had set aside Rs 70,221 crore, which is 64% of the military’s capital budget, for domestic defence procurement last year, as compared to Rs 51,000 crore, or 58% of the capital budget, in 2020-21.

The allocation for indigenous procurement – made for the third consecutive year – will power the purchase of LCA (light combat aircraft) Mk-1A jets, light combat helicopters (LCH), basic trainer aircraft, Arjun Mk-1A tanks, a variety of missiles and other weapons.

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