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India best place for defence manufacturing: PM tells foreign players

NEW DELHI (PTI): Wooing foreign players to join his push for defence manufacturing in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that producing defence equipment in the country is the best option for them considering the big size of its market and underscored his government's commitment to creating a robust ecosystem for all manufacturers.

Addressing a seminar on 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' in defence manufacturing, Modi said his government has ushered in a "win-win" situation for all players, from public sector to private and foreign manufacturers, and asserted that the concept of a self-reliant India is not "inward-looking".

The goal of this mission is to make India work towards larger global peace, and also to help the world economy become more resilient and stable, he said.

The defence sector having self confidence is necessary for making a modern and self-reliant India, the Prime Minister said, asserting that a new mindset has emerged on his government's watch.

"India has the potential to become a dependable supplier of defence equipment to many friendly countries. This will further deepen India's strategic partnership and boost its role of being a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region," the PM said.

Asserting that the recent announcement of an import embargo on 101 defence equipment is not merely confined to curbing imports but also aimed at giving a boost to the domestic industry, he said more items will be added to this list later.

His government's efforts are aimed at developing technology in India and expanding the private sector's role in this sector to the most, he said.

He said his government has opened the way for 74 per cent FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in defence production through automatic route. This is an outcome of the self confidence of a ‘new India’, he added.

The Prime Minister noted that India has long been one of the biggest defence importers in the world and rued that enough attention was not paid to augmenting domestic production in the past despite the country having inherited a capable ecosystem of over 100 years old at the time of Independence.

Very few nations had India's abilities and potential and many countries which started (defence manufacturing) later than India have gone far ahead in the last 50 years, the Prime Minister said.

Referring to a number of economic reforms since his government first came to power in 2014, he also mentioned the recent labour reforms in a number of states.

The reform exercise is not going to stop, he said.

The work on building defence corridor is also on at a rapid pace in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, he said, while adding that Rs 20,000 crore investment would be made for this in the next five years and a state-of-the-art infrastructure will be developed.

To boost domestic manufacturing, licensing process has been reformed, level-playing field created, export system simplified and offset provisions reformed, he said.

The focus is now on having a "co-production model" by going for joint ventures with foreign partners, the Prime Minister said.

"Considering India's market size, the best option for our foreign partners is to manufacture in India," he said.

The government is speeding up the procurement process, and the size of domestic industry is set to increase in coming days, he said.

Technological upgradation is necessary for developing self-reliance, he said, adding that research is being encouraged in the government-run DRDO, private sector and also academic institutions.

India's ordnance industry is being corporatised which will be a boost to its workers and also security forces, Modi said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and three service chiefs also attended the seminar, and the Prime Minister lauded the "tireless" efforts of his Cabinet colleague who, he added, has been working in a "mission mode" to make the exercise successful.

The PM said that his government has from the beginning worked with the mantra of "reform, perform and transform" and to remove red-tape and roll out red carpet for industry.

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