New Delhi (ANI): Noting that India has witnessed 700 per cent growth in defence exports, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said that time is now right for the industry to seize the opportunities and achieve strategic independence in defence manufacturing and make India next exporter of defence equipment.
Speaking at an e-symposium on ‘Catalysing Defence Exports’ via video conferencing, Gen Rawat said the country must move out of the constant threat of sanctions or dependency on an individual nation for its military requirements.
He said path-breaking institutional and policy reforms are definite signposts that stage is now set for the defence industry to exploit the opportunities and embark upon a trajectory of exponential growth to achieve the target.
“Defence exports support defence diplomacy and act as a key enabler for bilateral defence relationships besides having the potential to contribute to the national exchequer (and) ultimately finance physical and social infrastructure development within our country,” he said.
He said that at Defence Expo in Lucknow this year, the Prime Minister spelt out a defence export target of USD 5 billion in the next five years.
“We witnessed a staggering 700 per cent growth in defence exports from Rs 1,521 crores in 2016-17 to Rs 10,745 crores in 2018-19, an all-time high ranking of 19th in the list of defence exporters in 2019,” he added.
Noting that India is the world’s third-largest spender on defence, Gen Rawat said it is time to have a hard look at distribution of country’s budget expenditure.
“We must carry out a realistic analysis of our expenditures”, he said.
Gen Rawat said that import embargo on 101 defence items in phased timelines will boost indigenisation of defence production.
“Time is now right for the industry to seize the opportunities and achieve strategic independence in defence manufacturing and make India next exporter of defence equipment. We must move out of constant threat of sanctions or dependency on an individual nation for our military requirements,” he said.
Gen Rawat said that COVID-19 has once again focused minds on the severe impact on supply chain disruptions on both civilian and defence sectors.
“It is no brainer that with its security challenges, the great power aspirations and its technological capacities, India should have a robust defence manufacturing capacity which shall not only ensure strategic interdependence but will also generate substantial revenues to defence exports and contribute to our vision of making India modern, prosperous and secure,” he said.
The CDS said this is an ideal time for the industry to embark the path of self-reliance and defence exports.
“Some issues that come to my mind is Make in India theme may be relooked at with three broad objectives. Firstly, Make in India for import substitution, Make in India for sustained domestic demand and Make in India for global exports,” he said.
He said that the government’s call of Make in India built a clear vision for the defence sector to develop self-reliance and for the local industry to support the country’s domestic needs.
“This manifested in ease of defence industrial licensing, relaxation export controls and grant of no objection certificates. Specific incentives were introduced under foreign trade policy,” he said.
Gen Rawat said there was a need to revamp ordnance factories and other defence public sector undertakings in terms of modernisation, work culture and quality control.
He said that India’s current military fleet comprises of a fair share of vintage platforms which are under modernisation plans.
These vintage platforms with some retrofit would be exported to countries which lack desired firepower to defend themselves, he added.