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NEW DELHI: India will not only establish a strong defence industrial base but also become a reliable arms supplier to friendly countries in the years ahead, which will further consolidate its strategic partnerships and position it as the “net security provider” in the Indian Ocean Region, PM Narendra Modi said on Thursday.
Speaking at a defence industry outreach webinar, the PM said his government had taken several steps to increase defence production, promote development of new military technologies and maximise the private sector’s participation in the critical arena. “Our commitment to achieve self-reliance is not restricted to just talk or papers. The effort in the last few years has been to break all shackles associated with the defence production sector. We are witnessing a new mindset… self-confidence in the defence sector is very important for a modern and Atmanirbhar Bharat,” he said.
The government’s resolve for Atmanirbhar Bharat is “not inward-looking” but aimed at boosting India’s production capabilities and helping the global economy and security become more stable, he added. Referring to the move to “corporatise” the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which has 41 factories and 16 other entities under it, Modi said it had been run like a “government department” for decades. This “limited vision” adversely impacted not only the country and the armed forces, but also its “hardworking, experienced and talented” workers, he said.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh said the corporatisation of OFB, which aims to convert it into one or more 100% government-owned public sector corporate entities, will be completed within a year. The PM said the recent negative arms import list — under which acquisition of 101 weapon systems and platforms from abroad will be progressively banned from December 2020 to December 2025 — will be expanded to include more products.
“Domestic industry will get more orders in the coming days,” Modi said, also referring to the decision to “bifurcate” the defence procurement budget between domestic and foreign capital acquisitions this year. The PM pointed to the decision in May to hike the FDI limit to 74% from 49% in the defence production sector through the automatic clearance route. With India being a huge market, foreign arms companies will greatly benefit by entering into joint ventures with Indian companies, he said. “We all collectively have to achieve the target of Atmanirbhar Bharat. It is a win-win situation for everyone, including the public sector, private sector and foreign partners. The government is committed to providing a better ecosystem,” he said.

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