As you all know that the Indian government holds webinars with the people of different fields after the budget presentation for its early implementation. Discussions are going on how to make private companies a partner and draw a roadmap for implementing the budget. I am happy that today I have got the opportunity to meet all the partners and stakeholders participating in the webinar organized by the Ministry of Defence. Many-many best wishes to all of you.
I think today's dialogue is very important in terms of how India can become self-reliant in the defence sector. It is very necessary that there should be information as well as brainstorming regarding the new prospects that have emerged in the defence sector following the budget and what should be the future direction. We often see something scribbled in the places where our warriors are trained that the sweat shed during the period of peace prevents spilling of blood during the war. That is, the precondition of peace is heroism, the precondition of heroism is capability and the precondition of capability is the early preparation and all the rest follow. It is also said in our country: ‘’सहनशीलता, क्षमा, दया को तभी पूजता जग है,बल का दर्प चमकता उसके पीछे जब जगमग है’’ i.e., "Tolerance, forgiveness and mercy is worshipped by the world only when the plume of force shines behind it."
India has a centuries-old experience of building weapons and military equipment. We had hundreds of ordnance factories before independence. In both the world wars, weapons at large scale were exported from India. But, for many reasons, this system has not been strengthened as much as it should have been after independence. The condition is such that we have to look for other countries even for small arms. Today, India is one of the biggest defence importers in the world and it is not a matter of great pride. It is not that the people of India do not have talent. It is not that the people of India do not have the capability.
You see, India was not making ventilators when the corona started. Today, India is making thousands of ventilators. India, which has the capacity to reach Mars, could also develop modern weapons. But it was considered easy to import weapons. And the nature of man is such that he accepts what is easy and which is easily found. In your home also you will find that you have been using so many foreign products for years. The same thing has happened with defence. But now today's India is working to change the situation.
Now, India is engaged in accelerating its capacities and capabilities. There was a time when our own fighter aircraft Tejas had to be consigned to files. But our government relied on the capabilities of our engineers and scientists on developing the Tejas, and today Tejas is flying gracefully in the skies. A few weeks back, an order worth Rs. 48,000 crore was placed for Tejas. It will lead to coming together of so many MSME sectors in this field and the volume of business will also be very huge. Our jawans have to wait too long for bullet proof jackets. Today, we are not only making bullet proof jackets for ourselves in India, but also increasing our capacity to supply to other countries.
With the formation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff, it has become very easy to bring uniformity in procurement processes, trial and testing, induction of equipment and in the process of services, and it is progressing rapidly in collaboration with all the wings of all our defence forces. This year's budget has further strengthened the commitment to modernize the army. The capital outlay in the defence sector has been increased by 19 per cent after about a decade and a half. For the first time since independence, so much emphasis is being given to increase the participation of the private sector in the defence sector. The government is emphasizing on the ease of doing business to take the private sector forward and to make things easier for them to work.
I also understand the concern in the defence sector regarding the private sector participation. The government's interference in the defence sector is manifold more than other sectors of the economy. The government is the only buyer, the government itself is the manufacturer and it is also difficult to export without the permission of the government. And it is natural too, because this sector concerns national security. But, at the same time, the defence manufacturing ecosystem of the 21st century cannot grow without the private sector partnership. I understand it very well and now all the organs of the government also agree. And, therefore, you may have noticed that since 2014, with transparency, predictability and ease of doing business, we are constantly moving forward in this sector by taking one step after another. With a number of such measures like de-licensing, de-regulation, export promotion, foreign investment liberalization, we have taken strong steps in this sector one after the other. And I would also say that I have got the maximum support and help for all these efforts from the leadership of the uniformed forces. They are also, in a way, emphasizing it, taking it forward.
It gives a lot of strength when a person wearing a uniform of the defence force says this, because for him war is either life or death. He protects the country by risking his life. You can very well imagine that if he comes forward for Atmanirbhar Bharat, then the atmosphere would be full of positivity and enthusiasm. You also know that India has made a list of 100 important items related to defence, which is called negative list and which we can manufacture with the help of our local industries. The timeline has been set so that our industries can plan to meet these requirements.
It is called a negative list in the official language, but I see it in a different way. According to me, it is a positive list in the language of self-sufficiency. This is the positive list on which our own manufacturing capacity is going to increase. This is the positive list that will generate employment in India. This is the positive list that is going to reduce our dependence on foreign countries for our defence needs. This is the positive list that guarantees the sale of indigenous products in India. And there is an inherent possibility of continuous innovation of these products according to the needs of India, our climate and the nature of our people.
Whether it is our army or our economic future, it is a kind of positive list for us. And for you, this is the most positive list, and I assure all of you in this meeting today that there will be no such approach to import any goods related to the defence sector which the country or the government or private company has the capability to design and manufacture. You may have noticed that a part has been reserved for domestic procurement even in the capital budget of defence. I urge the private sector to come forward in manufacturing as well as designing and developing so that Indian flag can be kept flying high on the global stage. Don’t let go of this opportunity. The private sector of the country should utilize the DRDO’s experience in the field of indigenous design and development. Rapid reforms are being undertaken in DRDO so that rules and regulations don’t become an irritant. Now, the private sector will be involved in the beginning of the projects.
Never before, many small countries in the world bothered so much for their safety. But in view of the new challenges in the changing global environment, such small countries also have to worry about their security; security is becoming a very important subject for them also. It is very natural that such poor and small countries would look to India for their security needs because of our low cost manufacturing strength. We have the strength of quality products, and we only need to move forward. India also has a big role to play in helping these countries and there is a great role and a huge opportunity for India's developing defence sector. Today, we are exporting defence goods to more than 40 countries. From the identity of the import-dependent country, we have to identify ourselves as the world's leading defence exporter and strengthen this identity by taking you along.
We also have to keep in mind that a healthy defence manufacturing ecosystem is very important for large industries as well as small and medium manufacturing units. Our start-ups are giving us the innovations needed to make rapid changes with the changing times, putting us in the forefront of our defence preparedness. MSMEs work as a backbone for the entire manufacturing sector. The reforms that are taking place today are giving more freedom to MSMEs and encouragement to expand.
These MSMEs help medium and large manufacturing units, which add firepower to the entire ecosystem. This new thinking and new approach is also very important for the youth of our country. Platforms like iDEX are encouraging our start-up companies and young entrepreneurs in this direction. The defence corridors that are being built in the country today will also help local entrepreneurs and local manufacturing. That is, today, self-sufficiency in our defence sector has to be seen as the empowerment of these two fronts – “Jawan as well as Naujawan (Youth)”.
There was a time when the security of the country was related to sea, land and sky. Now the scope of security has expanded to every sphere of life. And the major reason for this is tactics like terrorism. Similarly, a new front has opened in the form of cyber attack that has changed the entire dimension of security. There was a time when substantial weapons were to be imported for security. Now the situation is such that even a small computer in a small room has become an aspect of the country's security, and, therefore, we have to work with a futuristic vision keeping in view the technology of the 21st century and the technology driven requirements along with traditional defence items. And investment has to be done now.
Therefore, it is also important today that we will have to focus on defence-related courses, defence skill courses, skill development and human resource development in our higher educational institutions, research institutes, universities and in our academic world. Research and innovation will also have to be taken care of. Time demands that these courses have to be designed as per the needs of India. As there are uniformed soldiers in traditional defence, we have to look for those in the academic world, researchers and security experts. We have to take steps also keeping in view this requirement. I hope you would move forward in this direction also.
I would request the Ministry of Defence and all of you to prepare a time-bound action plan and a perfect roadmap, based on today's discussion and implement it with the participation of both the government and the private sector. With the wish that this discussion and your suggestions take the country to new heights in the defence sector, I wish you all the best for today's webinar, for your supreme ideas and for your resolve to make the country self-reliant in the security sector.