India has very clearly conveyed to the US, Russia, France and many of its partner countries that military platforms and equipment required by the Indian armed forces to deal with myriad security challenges have to be manufactured in the country, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday.
Referring to regional geopolitical developments, Singh said that God has given India some neighbours who do not feel good seeing its growth and that the one born out of the partition is becoming weak worrying about India’s development.
In an address at the annual convention of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), he said most of the countries in the world are friends of India, including the US, Russia and France.
“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 and we do not hesitate to communicate this message,” he added.
The defence minister 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”.
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.
Singh said India will maintain friendship with these countries but at the same time will not hesitate to push for the production of key platforms on Indian soil.
“We will maintain the friendship but at the same time make it clear that whatever military equipment, weapons and ammunition are needed 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,” Singh said.
The defence minister 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.