The year was 2014 and the tall BJP leader in Narendra Modi, after winning the Lok Sabha election by a record margin was addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort as the Prime Minister for the first time. It was the beginning, a beginning of an era where things will start to change, where wheels will turn. While most remember PM Modi’s inaugural speech for Jan Dhan Scheme and for the Swachh Bharat campaign, many may be oblivious that he gave the call for increasing the domestic manufacturing capabilities. Additionally, for the first time, he gave the phrase “Make in India”, asking foreign companies to “Come, Make in India” whether it be satellites or submarines.
Since it was not possible to suddenly reduce India’s dependence on defence imports to zero, the government added a technology transfer clause to its deal. Under this, a foreign country selling its product in India would have to provide technical know-how to Indian companies and the government. 7 years down the line, the combination of Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India is helping PM Modi and the country realize its long-standing dreams, something which Congress in its decades’ long rule could not even envision.
Aatmanirbharta in defence manufacturing:
As reported by TFI, in November, Defence minister Rajnath Singh reassured the nation that we are successfully striving forward in fulfilling PM Modi’s goal of a ‘self-reliant defence industry’.
Informing the nation that currently Indian defence forces use 65 percent of weapons and products which are made in India, the defence minister promised that soon these 65 percent will be turned into 90 percent.
The defence sector can become Aatmanirbhar when it starts to create and when it starts to export. Under the current administration, the sector is doing just the same.
The Modi government has focused on exporting arms and ammunition developed indigenously in the country to other nations and in the last 7 years, the country has exported defence items worth more than Rs 38,000 crore.
According to reports, three Indian arms companies have already broken the glass ceiling by entering the top-100 list of arms sales globally. In the report compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks global arms trade, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Indian Ordnance Factories, and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) have found themselves on the list.
HAL is at number 42 with US$ 2.97 billion, up 1.5 percent from 2019 sales. Indian Ordnance Factories are at the 60th spot, with US$ 1.9 billion in sales, up 0.2 percent from the previous year. BEL is ranked 66, with US$ 1.63 billion in arms sales, up 4 percent compared to 2019.
The Government of India has also enhanced FDI in Defence Sector up to 74 per cent through the Automatic Route for companies seeking new defence industrial licenses and up to 100 per cent by Government Route wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded.
Make in India by giving chances to Indian private companies:
In a major boost to the ‘Make in India’ and as a corollary, the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign — the Indian government in August granted Indian auto giant Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd and its subsidiary Mahindra Defence Systems Limited (MDS) a contract worth Rs 1,349.95 crore for the manufacturing of Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Defence Suite (IADS) for modern warships of Indian Navy.
The IADS comes with an integrated capability for detecting enemy submarines and torpedoes at extended ranges as well as diverting incoming torpedoes fired by enemy submarines. And it will greatly enhance the anti-submarine warfare capability of the Indian Navy.
Just like Mahindra & Mahindra, another private indigenous firm named Economic Explosives Limited (EEL) reposed the faith shown by the government and delivered the first batch of India-made multi-mode hand grenades (MMHG).
LCH, Tejas, Shakti warfare system:
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi handed over Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) (developed by Hindustan Aeronautics limited) and other indigenous defence equipment, to the Indian Air Force.
The twin-engine LCH, in the 5-8 tonne weight class, is the only attack helicopter in the world that can take off and land at an altitude of 5,000 m or 16,400 ft with a massive amount of weapons and fuel. Along with this, it can fly up to a height of 15 to 16 thousand feet.
The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas (83 of which have been ordered), transport aircraft C-295, to be manufactured by Tata-Airbus, deal with the government in the final stages are the other notable achievements of the current regime.
PM Modi also gave an electronic warfare system called ‘Shakti’ to the Indian Navy. Shakti is meant for interception, detection, classification, identification and jamming of conventional and modern radars. It has been developed by DRDO.
Defence Corridors of the country:
Moreover, the foundation stone of the defence industrial corridor was also laid in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to become ‘Aatmanirbhar’ in the manufacturing and service of aerospace and defence equipment.
The defence corridor plan in the southern state has been identified in Chennai, Trichy, Salem, Hosur, and Coimbatore as areas of focused development. It is pertinent to note that the defence ministry recently placed an order worth Rs 7,523 crore to the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) for the supply of 118 units of the Main Battle Tank Arjun’s Mark-1A variant for the Indian Army.
The Combat Vehicles Research & Development Estt (CVRDE) in Chennai is the main DRDO lab involved in the development of Armoured fighting vehicles, Tanks and Automotive. It is also part of the defence corridor.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh has emerged as the top investment destination; companies from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Germany, and South Korea have shown interest in setting up their manufacturing units/corporate offices in the state. Cumulatively, an investment worth Rs 45,000 crore has been proposed which will create 1.35 lakh jobs in the state.
AK-203 and indigenous manufacturing in Amethi:
As reported by TFI, at the 21st Indo-Russian Summit held earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met and announced the decision of procurement of over 6 lakh AK-203 assault rifles, which will become the standard piece of equipment for the Indian army.
The manufacturing will take place in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. The project will likely be implemented by a special purpose Joint Venture called Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd (IRRPL) and Munitions India Limited (MIL) alongside Rosoboronexport (RoE) and Kalashnikov of Russia.
Delhi | Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu sign agreements between India and Russia pic.twitter.com/QDF3greES4
— ANI (@ANI) December 6, 2021
PLI schemes and extending their ambit:
With the success of Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes in different sectors of the economy, it wouldn’t be hyperbole to suggest that the government might be planning something on the same lines for the defence sector.
The government has already approved the scheme for the procurement of drones and drone components which will offer tremendous benefits to almost all sectors of the economy. These include– agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, geo-spatial mapping, defence, and law enforcement to name a few.
Recently, the Indian Navy signed a contract with Bharat Electricals Limited (BEL) for India’s first indigenous anti-drone system. An anti-drone system basically can detect and jam an adversary’s unmanned aerial vehicle. This anti-drone system will keep Indian ships and air spaces secured from enemy drones of Pakistan and China.
Currently, India is the third-biggest military spender in the world, is also the second-largest importer of arms transferred between 2016-20, with a share of 9.5 percent of global arms imports. However, with PM Modi at the helm of affairs, the industry has taken a momentous leap that may dwarf the advancements made in the last 70 years cumulatively.