PRIME Minister Mr. Narendra Modi said, “Our Mantra is, Make in India, for India, for world.” He, thereby, has laid the road-map for the future as far as defence production is concerned. The primary driving force behind the ‘Make in India’ slogan given by the Prime Minister five years ago was to make the country self-reliant, more particularly in defence manufacturing, and in other fields in general. That is not a mere slogan, it is a mission. That slogan has set the tone for the defence manufacturing industry in the country with open invitation to the private sector to be part of this new mission.
Thus the Prime Minister visualised a situation where the country’s defence manufacturing industry would not only meet the nation’s security needs but also would be one of the top most defence equipment suppliers in the world. While laying stress on domestic manufacture of defence requirements, along with the domestic industry he also invited foreign investors to be part of this mission with technology transfer and joint ventures with Indian entities in the private and public sectors.
Inaugurating the 11th edition of DefExpo in Lucknow on Wednesday, the Prime Minister has very rightly said that the country of the size of India and a vibrant economy cannot entirely depend on imports for its security. And it is with this vision that in the last five years, under the more liberalised policy of defence manufacturing, 460 licenses have been issued in comparison to 210 in 2014, the time when the new Government under Mr. Modi’s leadership assumed office. This is a marked departure from the past when the private sector and foreign investment were nearly blacked out. It would be of interest to look at the figures of the achievements since that liberalised regime of defence manufacturing came into force. While more private players have entered the arena, it has also imparted greater muscle to India’s defence exports: from Rs. 2000 crores worth of defence equipment exports the country now has garnered a whopping Rs. 17000 crores worth of exports.
And there is no stopping the further march as the Prime Minister has envisioned a target of $ 5 billion ( nearly Rs. 35,000 crores). This is no pipe-dream. The developments in the defence manufacturing sector in the last five years and plans set for the next five years speak for themselves. That also speaks volumes about the capacity and the potential that India has in this field. The country’s premier scientific and technological institutions like the DRDO, HAL, ISRO are bubbling with newer projects and newer research and development activities in consonance with the Prime Minister’s vision of self-reliance in one of the critical areas of the country’s security. While India is not a warmonger, it also cannot be oblivious to the developments that take place in its immediate neigbourhood and as an important power in the South Asian region. Besides, under newer geopolitical realities India is bound to play a very important role in international affairs.
That also makes abundantly incumbent for the country to be self-reliant in this critical area of security. That defence ministers from 30 countries and 1000 defence manufacturers and 150 companies are participating in the DefExpo at Lucknow shows the tremendous interest global industry and foreign governments have evinced in the defence expo and the importance they attach to India as a potential defence hub of the future and opportunities that are on offer. With the nature of warfare changing globally, future conflicts are likely to be hi-technology driven with cyber-warfare playing a certain role in defence matters. Artificial Intelligence too would have a significant role to play. For this India will have to have more futuristic readiness to meet these challenges of modern world warfare. Of course India has the wherewithal for that.