My cabinet colleague, Shri Rajnath ji, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat ji, Chiefs of the three wings of the military, all senior officials of Government of India and friends in the industry. Namaskar.
I am very happy that all the important stakeholders associated with India’s defence production are present here. I congratulate Defence Minister Rajnathji and his entire team for organizing this seminar. The outcome of the brainstorming session will give a fillip to our efforts for self-reliance in the field of defence sector. The suggestions that you have given at this collective brainstorming session will be very useful in the coming days.
It also gives me pleasure that Defence Minister Rajnathji is determined on a mission mode. I have full faith that his relentless efforts will lead to very good results.
Friends, it is not hidden from anybody that India has been one of the main defence importers in the world for the last several years. When India became independent, it had huge capabilities in defence production. There was a well-established 100-year-old ecosystem in defence production in India. Not many countries had the resources and potential of India. But it is unfortunate that not much attention was paid on this issue for several decades. In a way, it became a routine exercise. No serious attempts were made. And several countries which started much after us have raced ahead of us in the last 50 years. But, the situation is changing now.
In the last few years, you must have experienced that we have been making concerted efforts to unshackle all the fetters in this sector. Our aim is to increase manufacturing, development of new technologies in India and the maximum growth of the private sector in this particular field. Therefore, several steps have been taken which include reforms in the licensing procedure, creation of level-playing fields, simplification of export process, reforms in offset provisions, etc.
Friends, I believe that of all these steps, what is more important is the new mindset in the country regarding the defence sector. We can feel it, there is birth of a new mindset. The spirit of self-confidence in the defence sector is paramount for making a modern and self-reliant India. For long, the country was debating the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, but no decision could be taken. This decision is the symbol of the self-confidence of a new India.
There was no permission for foreign direct investment in the defence production for a long time. The government of revered Atalji took the first initiative. More reforms were carried out after our government came to power. Doors are being opened for 74 % automatic FDI in this sector for the first time. This is the outcome of the self-confidence of a new India.
For decades, Ordnance factories were being run like government departments. Not only the country had to suffer because of the limited vision, the people who were working there, who had talent and commitment, who were hardworking, our hard and experienced labour class, suffered a lot.
The ecosystem of the sector, which could create job opportunities for crores of people, remained very limited. Now, we are moving in the direction of corporatization of ordnance factories. Both the workers and the military will get a push. This is the proof of self-confidence of a new India.
Friends, our commitment towards self-reliance in defence production is not limited to discussions or on papers. Several concrete steps have been taken for its implementation. The creation of CDS has improved the coordination for procurement among all the three wings of the military, and it is helping scale up the purchases of defence equipment. In the coming days, the size of the orders is going to increase for the domestic industry. In order to ensure this, one part of the Defence Ministry’s capital budget has been earmarked for the equipment to be made in India.
You must have seen that recently 101 defence items have been completely protected for domestic purchases. In the coming days, this list will be made more comprehensive and many items will be added to it. The aim of this list is not to restrict imports only, but this step has been taken to encourage industries in India. The spirit of the government and the future possibilities have been presented before all of you friends, in black and white, be it the private sector, public sector, MSME, or startups.
Simultaneously, we are working to speed up the process of procurement, streamline the testing mechanism and rationalize the quality requirements. And I am happy that these efforts have the cooperation from all the three wings of the military in a very coordinated way. In a way, it is a pro-active role.
Friends, technology upgrade is a must for self-reliance in modern equipment. There is a need to make next generation products. In order to achieve this, besides DRDO, the private sector, research and innovation in academic institutions is also being encouraged. Emphasis is being given on the co-production model through joint ventures with foreign partners instead of the technology transfer facility. Now, our foreign partners have the best option to launch production in India in keeping with the size of our market.
Friends, our government has worked on the mantra of reform, perform and transform from the beginning. Our effort has been to reduce red tapism and lay red carpet. The entire world has seen the reforms that have taken place in the ease of doing business since 2014. We have carried out reforms in intellectual property, taxation, insolvency and bankruptcy and also in space and atomic energy which are considered to be very difficult and complex. And now you are fully aware about the series of reforms in labour laws, and it is an ongoing process.
Till a few years ago, no thought was given on these topics. And today, these reforms have become practical. The process of reforms will not stop here; we are going to move ahead. Therefore, no stopping and no tiring. Neither I nor you have to tire. We have to keep marching ahead. From our side, I tell you this is our commitment.
Friends, as far as infrastructure is concerned, the work on the defence corridors is happening at a lightning speed. The state-of-the-art infrastructure is being developed in collaboration with the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. We have set aside an investment target worth 20,000 crore rupees for the next five years. We are getting good results from IDEX which was initiated to encourage entrepreneurs associated with MSME and Start-ups. More than 50 Start-ups have developed technology and products for the use of the armed forces through this platform.
Friends, I want to make another thing very clear before you. Our resolution for a self-reliant India is not inward looking. The idea behind making a strong India is to make the global economy more resilient and stable, and for the global peace. The same spirit is behind self-reliance in defence manufacturing. India has the capability to become a trusted supplier of defence products for several friendly countries. This will give a new momentum to India’s strategic partnership and India’s role will also be strengthened as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region.
Friends, the government’s efforts and commitment are in front of you. Together, we have to demonstrate our resolve for self-reliant India. A self-reliant India is a win-win resolve for everybody, be it the private sector or the public sector, or our foreign partners. Our government is committed to provide you with a better ecosystem.
The suggestions that have been offered by you are going to be very useful. I have been told that the draft of the defence production and export promotion policy has been shared with all the stakeholders. Your feedback will help in early implementation of this policy. It is also necessary that today’s seminar should not be a one-time event; there should be more such seminars in future. There should be an intrinsic culture of continuous discussion and feedback between the industry and the government.
I believe that our resolutions will materialize with these collective efforts. I once again thank you for taking your time out to gather here with self-confidence to make a self-reliant India. I believe we all will discharge our responsibilities in a much better way to realize this resolve.
Once again, I extend my many many best wishes to you.
Many many thanks.