LUCKNOW: Pitching in for a common technology platform to make India self-reliant in defence manufacturing and ensure digital transformation of the sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon the both the Indian and foreign firms to invest in the country so as to make it secure on one hand and get good returns on the other for India is one of the biggest markets for defence equipment in the world.
The Prime Minister was addressing a huge gathering while inaugurating the 11th edition of country’s biggest ever DefExpo-2020 at a glittering ceremony in the presence of Indian and foreign dignitaries and delegates here on Wednesday.
He said the main thrust of the expo was to bolster the idea of ‘Make in India’. Rechristening the event as ‘Make in India for India and for the world’, Modi also stressed upon the transformation of Indian defence in line with the changing technology thus making the country a major defence export power which was also tied up with its $5 billion economy ambition.
The way ahead- defence indigenisation! pic.twitter.com/nDEhrfAMfo— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 5, 2020
“Digital transformation of defence is very important for the future of Indian military,” PM said adding that the aim was to develop 25 products based on artificial intelligence in the next 5 years.”
The prime minister emphasised over cutting down defence import and increase export.
He said it was an opportunity for Indian firms to showcase their capabilities and also promote its export potential. “So far we have been focusing on defence imports. We failed to attain self-reliance in the defence sector despite being the largest democracy and having the world’s second-largest force. The defence imports have been jacking our import bill and we have emerged as the biggest arms’ importer,” said the PM adding that during the last five years, the ‘ease of doing business’ policy has brought about a revolutionary change in defence production.
“India’s defence export is growing; it stood at Rs 17,000 crore in the last two years. The defence export target for the next five years is Rs 35,000 crore,” he added.
With around 172 foreign defence manufacturing firms, defence ministers from around 40 countries and delegates from 70 countries are attending the five-day mega show which is a biennial military exhibition that showcases the country’s potential to become a global defence manufacturing hub. Close to 856 Indian defence firms are also showcasing their wares at the event.
In all, over 1000 defence manufacturing firms are participating in the expo. “UP is set to be one of the biggest defence manufacturing hub in the country in near future owing to the upcoming defence corridor in the state,” said the PM while addressing the gathering.
The PM also enumerated the challenges in the field of cybercrime. He also laid stress on the importance of automation and discussed the benefits of artificial intelligence in meeting the new-age challenges at length. He claimed that with the evolution of forces in the world in the light of new technological challenges, India was trying to keep pace.
“In the last five years India has made remarkable progress in indigenising the production of military equipment under the Make in India initiative,” he said.
The prime minister listed his government’s initiatives in this regard and said that while only 270 defence licences were issued till 2014, his government had taken it to 460 in the last five years.
Referring to the relevant transfer of technology, the PM said even Indian Industry can benefit free of cost transfer of technology by the DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation), which was possible now.
Modi also explained his government’s efforts to attract foreign investment in the sector. “FDI rules have been made easy and liberal by this government. The path to 100% direct investment has been cleared and 49% of this can be done through the indirect route. This has the potential of inviting Rs 17,000 crore in FDI in the near future,” said the PM.
The main theme of the 11 DefExpo is ‘India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub’ and the focus will be on ‘Digital Transformation of Defence’. The fifth India-Russia Military Industry Conference will also take place on the sidelines of the DefExpo. Over 100 Russian and over 200 Indian industry leaders are expected to participate in the conference.