Industry And Cluster | News & Insights

‘Our Priority is to Cut Imports, be Self-reliant’

Published: October 18, 2019

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the government’s priority in its second term is to cut down dependence on defence imports and develop indigenous capabilities through greater involvement of the private sector in the field, with a special focus on startups. Excerpts from an interview.

Import substitution is the priority of the government.

We want to focus on import substitution. The aim is to minimise imports and focus on developing our own arms and equipment under the Make in India programme. Our goal is to equip the Indian armed forces with equipment designed and developed locally by our research & development organisations and industrial entities, both private and public. India has maintained a diverse inventory of defence equipment for a number of years. The diversity in our procurement reflects the need to procure the best for our defence forces amongst available options. It is also aimed at protecting India’s strategic interests.

The role of the private sector in defence, its performance so far, opportunities and potential?

We support both the private and public sectors. We have had a strong public sector traditionally, but in a short span, private companies have grown significantly. In 2018-19, private sector had a turnover of Rs.17,350 crore, which is over 20% of India’s total defence production. Private companies are now operating in all segments of defence production with quite a few integrated in the global supply chain. They are now manufacturing sophisticated weapons systems such as artillery guns, warships, electronic warfare systems and bulletproof jackets. Going forward, its participation is likely to be intensified. The government has taken a number of initiatives to facilitate its participation in defence manufacturing. A major contribution to our growth in defence sector is by the private sector. We are actively promoting this with the help of several policy initiatives. We are witnessing tremendous interest in defence forces in developing and promoting startups and DRDO has decided to work increasingly with industry. Several new technologies developed by DRDO are being produced in partnership with industry. DRDO proposes to take this further.

About Strategic Partnership Model – the realistic expectations:

The SP model emerged out of our conscious decision to allow the Indian industry to manufacture major defence platforms such as fighter aircraft, submarines, helicopters and armoured vehicles. We have already launched some big schemes – submarine and helicopters – under the model. We are confident that these schemes will fructify in the prescribed timeframe. The SP model will enhance technology absorption within the Indian defence industry and enable us to emerge as a major arms manufacturing hub.

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