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Decision of Indian defence forces to buy most of equipment made in country shows capacity of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat': PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the DefExpo 22, at Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre in Gandhinagar, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. A PTI Photo

GANDHINAGAR (PTI):  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the decision of the Indian defence forces to buy a majority of the equipment made in the country shows the capacity of the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India).

India has made its place despite the monopoly of a few manufacturing companies in the defence sector globally, he said.

This also symbolises the rising confidence on defence materials made in India, he said after inaugurating the Defence Expo 2022, which is aimed at showcasing the country's defence manufacturing capabilities.

The defence exports from India reached about Rs 13,000 crore in 2021-22 and "we have set a target to reach Rs 40,000 crore in the coming times," he said.

At the event, Modi also laid the foundation stone for a new airbase at Deesa in Banaskantha district of north Gujarat near the India-Pakistan border and said it will emerge as an effective centre for the country's security.

"The country has come a long way as earlier we used to release pigeons and now we release cheetahs," he said.

The PM also laid emphasis on the importance of maritime security and space technology.

The maritime security has emerged as a global priority, he said.

India will also have to increase its preparations looking at the future opportunities in the space sector, he said.

On the issue of maritime security, Modi talked about his vision of the 'Security and Growth for All in the Region' (SAGAR). India's engagement in the Indo-Pacific region is inclusive, he said.

Today, from international security to global trade, maritime security has emerged as a global priority. The role of the merchant navy has also expanded in the era of globalisation, he said.

The world's expectations from India have increased, and I assure the world community that India will fulfil them. Therefore, this Defence Expo is also a symbol of global trust towards India, he said.

Modi also talked about India's relationship with Africa and said it is based on the "time-tested trust which is further deepening and touching new dimensions with the passage of time.

Dwelling upon the old ties between Africa and Gujarat, he recalled that the first railway line in Africa had the participation of people from Kutch.

Modi said the defence forces will on Wednesday release a list of 101 more items that can only be procured in India. With this, 411 defence-related goods can only be procured locally, he said.

"This will give a major boost to the Indian defence industry, he said, adding that these decisions also show the potential of a self-reliant India.

He said the exports of Indian defence products have increased eight times in the last few years.

"The world is trusting Indian technology because the our armed forces have proved their capabilities. We are exporting defence materials and equipment to more than 75 countries," the PM said.

"Our policies, reforms and the ease of doing business have played a big role in reaching this point. India has earmarked 68 per cent of its defence budget for Indian companies. It's a big decision, and has been made possible because of the progressive leadership of the Indian Armed Forces," he said.

The PM said the decision of the Indian defence forces to buy a majority of the equipment made in the country shows "the capacity of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' and also symbolises the rising confidence on defence materials made in India."

"There will be more than 400 equipment which will be bought only under Make in India (initiative). Imagine such a huge budget will strengthen the pillars of Indian companies," Modi said.

Talking about the future opportunities in space, Modi said India will have to increase its preparations.

"Our defence forces will have to find new innovation opportunities," he said, adding that space technology is also setting up a new definition of India's generous thinking by sharing the benefits with other countries.

"Many small African countries are benefiting from this. There are more than 60 developing countries with which India is sharing its space science," he said.

By next year, India will share real-time access of Indian satellite data with 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. "Even developed European and American countries are using our satellite data," he said.

India's youth will realise the possibilities related to the space sector in a timely manner and with better quality taking inspiration from (late space scientist) Dr Vikram Sarabhai. The youth will give a new energy to our commitment, he said.

Modi also said that after his government came to power, they decided to set up an operational base in Deesa, and "this expectation of our forces is being fulfilled today".

This region will now become an effective centre for the country's security, he said.

"The international border is just 130 km away, If our forces, especially the Air Force, will be in Deesa, we shall be able to respond in a much better way to any challenge on the western border," he said.

Modi said for this airfield, Gujarat had given land way back in 2000, and as the then chief minister he tried his best for its construction and explained this to the then central government about its importance. "But nothing happened for 14 years," he said.

"So many question marks were put on files that it took time to put things into the right perspective even after I went there (at the Centre). After we formed the government, we decided to make an operational base in Deesa and the expectations of our forces are being met today," he said.

Modi also said this is an unprecedented Defence Expo as it is for the first time that only Indian companies are participating in it.

There are more than 1,300 exhibitors which include the Indian defence industry, some joint ventures associated with it, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and more than 100 Start-ups, he said.

He said Gujarat's identity as a developed state and its industrial capabilities will brighten with the DefExpo being held here.

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MoUs worth Rs 1,53,000 crore signed at DefExpo 2022

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