March 24, 2023

US, Russia, others conveyed clear message that equipment for Indian forces have to be produced in India: Rajnath | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: India has very clearly conveyed to the US, Russia, France and many of its partner countries that military platforms and weapons required by the Indian armed forces to confront myriad security challenges have to be manufactured on Indian soil, defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday.
Talking about the regional security matrix, he said a country born out of the partition is perennially worried about seeing India’s progress while another one keeps on creating new plans, in an oblique reference to Pakistan and China respectively.
“For the security of India and its people, it is necessary that we develop our defence capacity and capability so that even the most powerful country in the world has to think a thousand times before planning anything that endangers our interests,” he said at FICCI.
“Our government’s aim is not to attack anyone, but prepare our armed forces to be ready at all times to give a befitting reply to the country’s enemies,” Singh said.
He said most of the countries around the world have friendly ties with India and a message has been conveyed to the US, Russia, France and many others that India wants to manufacture the defence equipment required by its armed forces on Indian soil as “national security is our top priority”.
“We have told every friendly country that we want to produce the military platforms, weapons and ammunition in India itself keeping in mind the security of the country,” he said.
“We have conveyed this message to the US, Russia, France and others as well. We do not hesitate to communicate this message,” Singh added.
He said the message to the countries producing military equipment has been that: “Come make in India, come make for India and come make for the world”.
“We will maintain the friendship with the countries but at the same time we make it clear that whatever military equipment, weapons and ammunition are needed by us have to be produced in India,” the defence minister said.
“I tell it very clearly and with confidence. And you will be happy to know that I get a positive response from them,” he said.
Citing an example, Singh said following his talks with French defence minister Florence Parly on Friday, it was agreed that a major French company will produce “an engine” in India by joining hands with an Indian company under the strategic partnership model. He, however, did not elaborate.
People familiar with the development, however, said the project will be focused on the requirement for military helicopters that India plans to roll out in the next few years.
Describing the US as the biggest exporter of military hardware, Singh said it would wish that the countries that purchase its weapons are its friends. He said India will maintain a friendship, but at the same time, clearly keep informing that whatever platforms are required have to be produced in India.
Singh elaborated on the government’s vision to make India a global defence manufacturing hub, stressing that the focus is to modernise the armed forces and create a strong self-reliant defence industry that can help in safeguarding the country from conventional and non-conventional threats.
He also mentioned the recent agreement with Russia worth more than Rs 5,000 crore to manufacture over six lakh AK-203 Rifles in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The defence minister listed out measures to promote foreign investment, including increasing the FDI limit to 74 per cent through automatic route and 100 per cent through government route under certain circumstances. He said, foreign investment will help to create an ecosystem of defence manufacturing in the country.
Singh also referred to the government’s decision to not import 209 military equipment under a staggered timeline to promote the domestic defence industry and indicated that the items under the list may touch 1,000.
“When I talk about ‘India Beyond 75’, I believe that this ‘positive list’ will be around 1000 items in this decade. I am very positive about this,” he said.
The defence minister also talked about the need for “fair competition” between private and public sector companies and described the corporatisation of the over 200-year-old Ordnance Factory Board as the biggest reform in the defence sector after Independence.
“At present, India’s defence and aerospace manufacturing market is worth Rs 85,000 crores. I believe it will increase to one lakh crore in 2022,” he said.
The government has initiated a series of measures in the last couple of years to encourage the domestic defence industry.
In August last year, Singh announced that India will stop the import of 101 weapons and military platforms like transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, conventional submarines, cruise missiles and sonar systems by 2024.
A second list, putting import restrictions on 108 military weapons and systems such as next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning systems, tank engines and radars, was issued a few months later.
In May last year, the government announced increasing the FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent under the automatic route in the defence sector.

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