52,000 Crore boost for self-reliance in defence

Defence minister Rajnath Singh made an “important announcement”, where he listed the decisions being taken by his ministry to boost self-reliance in defence production.

Listing some of the big announcements, Singh said that the defence Ministry has bifurcated the capital procurement budget for 2020-21 between domestic and foreign capital procurement routes. A separate budget head has been created with an outlay of nearly Rs 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement in the current financial year, he said.

“The Ministry of Defence is now ready for a big push to AtmanirbharBharat initiative. MoD will introduce import embargo on 101 items beyond given timeline to boost indigenisation of defence production,” Singh tweeted.

He further said that the ministry has decided to embargo 101 items from being imported. “This is a big step towards self-reliance in defence. #AtmanirbharBharat”,” he said.

India on Sunday announced a negative arms list, under which imports of 101 weapons and platforms will be progressively banned from December 2020 to December 2025, in a bid to bolster the fledgling indigenous defence production sector.

The list includes artillery guns, missile destroyers, ship-borne cruise missiles, light combat aircraft, light transport aircraft, long-range land attack cruise missiles, communication satellites, basic trainer aircraft, multi-barrel rocket launchers, a variety of radars, assault rifles, sniper rifles, mini UAVs and different types of ammunition.

The defence ministry (MoD) said the list will be expanded or updated periodically, without compromising on the operational requirements of the armed forces, to allow lead-time to the domestic industry to prepare itself for any such procurement orders likely to come up subsequent to the indicated embargo.

Announcing the decision, defence minister Rajnath Singh said the MoD was now ready for a big push to the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” initiative announced by PM Narendra Modi.

“This decision will offer a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to manufacture the items in the negative list by using their own design and development capabilities or adopting the technologies designed and Developed by DRDO to meet the requirements of the armed forces,” he added.

India, incidentally, has for long languished in the strategically-vulnerable position of being among the top arms importers in the world.

The MoD said the list was prepared after several rounds of consultations with all stakeholders, including the Army, Navy, IAF, DRDO, defence PSUs, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and the private industry, to assess current and future capabilities of the Indian industry for manufacturing various ammunition, weapons, platforms and equipment within the country.

“Almost 260 schemes of such items were contracted by the three Services at an approximate cost of Rs 3.5 lakh crore between April 2015 and August 2020. With the latest embargo on import of 101 items, it is estimated that contracts worth almost Rs 4 lakh crore will be placed upon the domestic industry within the next five to seven years,” it said.

“Of these, items worth almost Rs 1,30,000 crore each are anticipated for the Army and IAF, while items worth almost Rs 1,40,000 crore are anticipated for the Navy over the same period,” it added.

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