Vowing to end India’s status as the world’s No.1 defence importer, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi said that the government is focusing on developing the defence industry and it is “at the heart of our Make in India programme”. Inaugurating Aero India 2015, South Asia’s biggest air show, at the Yelahanka Air Force Station, Mr. Modi said there is a need to develop the Indian defence industry as it is not enough to buy equipment and assemble it in the country. “We have been doing this in the past, without absorbing any technology or developing our own capabilities. In some areas, we are where we were three decades ago,” he said. Stressing on the need to exploit the assets and vast potential of public sector companies, Mr. Modi said they need to do much better than they are doing now. Focusing on how reduction in imports can lead to job creation, he said that there are studies that show that even a 20 to 25 per cent reduction in imports could directly create an additional one lakh to two lakh highly skilled jobs in the country. Nearly 60 per cent of defence equipment is imported and India is spending tens of billions of dollars on acquisition from abroad, he said. If domestic procurement is increased from 40 per cent to 70 per cent in the next five years, it will double the output, the prime minister said. Making a strong pitch for ‘Make in India’, he said the government was bringing changes in defence procurement policies and procedures that would give clear preference for equipment manufactured in India and ensure accountability and speedy decision-making. “Acquisition and approval processes need to be reformed. We must indicate a clear roadmap of our future needs. This must take into account new technology trends and the nature of future challenges,” Mr. Modi said.
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