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India making defence ecosystem for self-reliance: Rajnath

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during his address at the Tezpur University, Assam. (Photo: PTI)

TEZPUR , ASSAM (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said the Government is developing a strong base of domestic defence industrial ecosystem to make the country a strategic economy.

Addressing the 21st Convocation of Tezpur University in Tezpur, Assam, Singh said his ministry is making all efforts to achieve the target of becoming self-reliant in the defence sector.

"Our government is developing a strong base of domestic defence industrial ecosystem to make India a strategic economy," he said.

Highlighting the various steps taken by the Ministry of Defence, Singh stressed that for the first time, the import of arms went down while exports rose.

"We issued five positive indigenisation lists, under which 509 defence equipment have been identified whose manufacturing will now be done indigenously.

"In addition, we have also issued four positive indigenisation lists of Defence Public Sector Undertakings, in which 4,666 items have been identified and these will now be manufactured in our country," he added.

Talking about the domestic defence manufacturing, Singh said that the production has crossed the record figure of Rs 1,00,000 crore for the first time.

"The total value of India's defence exports, which was Rs 1,521 crore in 2016-17, has increased almost 10 times to reach a record level of Rs 15,920 crore in 2022-23," he stated.

Singh also spoke about the change of attitude over the years and highlighted the working style of the present Government in tackling any situation.

"India is no longer tolerant of the 'let-it-be' approach. Today, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the new India believes in the 'let's-do-it' approach," he added.

On the issue of women empowerment, Singh said the Government has taken steps to ensure proper representation of women in all sectors including in the military.

"Today, women are walking shoulder to shoulder with men in every field in the country. From fighter planes to Chandrayaan, there is no field in which the presence of women is not seen," he added.

Emphasising on the role of youths in making the country developed, the Defence Minister said that the idea of making India an economic and military superpower is based on the confidence in the capabilities of talented youths.

"To empower the youth and enhance their capabilities, our Government has promoted start-up culture and innovation ecosystem," he added.

Mentioning the start-up culture initiated by the Defence Ministry in the Defence industrial sector, Singh said the Innovation for Defence Excellence (iDEX) has been successfully promoting innovative ideas since its inception.

"Because of the various efforts by the Government to promote entrepreneurship among youths, today there are over one lakh start-ups in the country," he said.

A total of 1,355 students were conferred Degrees and Diplomas during the convocation. Out of them, 110 received PhD, 785 post-graduate, 432 graduate, five PG diplomas and 23 have been awarded degrees and diplomas through distance and open learning mode.

Appreciating Tezpur University's efforts in providing quality education, the Defence Minister urged the students to focus on the essence of practical knowledge and the pivotal role of character development.

In regard to starting a Centre for Defence Studies named after Ahom General Lachit Borphukan at Tezpur University, he directed the university authority to submit a proposal on the same.

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