NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat recently urged Indian firms manufacturing bullet-proof jackets for the Army to avoid importing raw materials from China because of ‘inconsistencies’ in the quality of raw materials. A NITI Aayog committee has recommended use of indigenous material as much as possible in such vests and import from other sources only if needed, he said. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had asked NITI Aayog to prepare a road map for ‘incentivising’ domestic manufacturing of lightweight body armours and protective gears, Saraswat, a former Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief, said. The Bureau of Indian Standards has also finalised quality norms for body armours to be used by Indian forces. Meanwhile, the government has sought product-wise details of cheap imports, comparison with domestic prices and tax disadvantage, if any, from industry to curb low quality inbound shipments especially from China and boost domestic manufacturing, according to a news agency report. A high-level meeting to discuss ways to promote ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India), including cut in import dependence from China, also took place recently in the PMO.
More than 300,000 bullet-proof jackets will be required by the armed forces, according to government projections. Indian companies were earlier procuring raw materials for bullet-proof jackets from the US and Europe. Now, most of them are being obtained from China due to cheaper prices.
Indian companies like Kanpur-based MKU and Tata Advanced Materials export body armour to armed forces of many countries.