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PM to present new outline for a self-reliant India on Aug 15: Rajnath Singh

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will present a new outline for a self-reliant India in his address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday.

Speaking at an event, Singh also referred to the Defence Ministry's decision to ban import of 101 military weapons and platforms and said "big and tough" decisions are being taken in sync with the Prime Minister's vision for a self reliant India.

Modi first mentioned about his vision for an 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) in his address to the nation on May 12 while announcing a Rs 20 lakh-crore stimulus package to boost the economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, various ministries and departments have announced a series of measures.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi will present before the nation some new outline for a self-reliant India in his address from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the Independence Day," the Defence Minister said.

He was speaking at an online event organised to pay tributes to revolutionary freedom fighter Udham Singh.

Singh said that the coronavirus pandemic has shown that a country may not be able to effectively protect its sovereignty if it is not self-reliant.

"Our government will not allow any harm to India's self respect and sovereignty at any cost," he said.

Singh said big weapons systems will now be produced in India and the country will look for their export to make it a hub for defence manufacturing.

"Along with promoting Make in India in the defence sector, we are becoming vocal for local by taking big and tough decisions," he said.

In a major push to promote the domestic defence industry, Singh on Sunday morning announced restrictions on import of 101 weapons and military platforms including light combat helicopters, transport aircraft, conventional submarines and cruise missiles by 2024.

"The Defence Ministry is also moving ahead in realising the dream of self reliance in defence manufacturing. We are minimising dependence on foreign equipment for our defence requirement. At the same time, we are extending all support to the domestic defence industry," he said.

Singh said the defence ministry has set a target of a turnover of US$ 25 billion (Rs 1.75 lakh crore) in defence manufacturing in the next five years including an aim to export USD 5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore) worth of military hardware.

"We will take the country to new heights," he said, adding Rs 52,000 crore worth of military equipment will be procured from domestic defence companies in the current fiscal.

Talking about the government's strong resolve to overcome difficult situations, the defence minister said that there was a shortage of ventilators and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits in India when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country, but within a month-and-half, the country became self-reliant in meeting their demands.

The Defence Minister said various departments and ministries of the government are working tirelessly to implement Modi's initiative for a self-reliant India and that it is an attempt to give a fresh dimension to Mahatma Gandhi's push for 'Swadeshi'.

Paying glowing tributes to Udham Singh, the Defence Minister said he sent a message that India has never recognised violence but those inflicting torture on the country were not spared.

Udham Singh was hanged in 1940 for killing Michael O'Dwyer who had ordered the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

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