Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said self-reliance in defence is essential for strengthening the country’s security apparatus.
Addressing the 12th convocation ceremony of Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) in Pune, Singh said dependence on import of defence equipment can hinder India’s strategic autonomy.
This is why the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making all-out efforts to achieve self-reliance in the defence sector, he said.
“Without self-reliance, we cannot take independent decisions on global issues in line with our national interests. More equipment we import; the more adverse impact will have on our trade balance.
“We aim to become a net exporter instead of the net importer. It will not only strengthen our economy but increase employment opportunities,” he said.
Singh said self-reliance does not mean isolation from the world. “Today, the world has become a global village and isolation isn’t possible. Self-reliance aims to meet the needs of the armed forces by building necessary equipment/platforms with our capacity while fulfilling the security requirements of our friendly countries,” he said.
He spoke of steps the Ministry of Defence took to promote self-reliance, including promulgating four positive indigenization lists for armed forces comprising 411 systems/equipment.
Singh said the government emphasizes innovation, adding India has become the second-largest hub for start-ups.
The Ministry of Defence is constantly receiving innovative ideas, he said. “Over 6,000 applications were received in the last seven editions of the Defence India Start-up Challenge, which indicates that Indian start-ups are contributing significantly to the pursuit of self-reliance in the defence sector. More patents are being filed, which is a sign of the innovative prowess,” he said.
India is manufacturing rifles, BrahMos missiles, Light Combat Aircraft, and indigenous aircraft carriers on its own, Singh said.
Defence exports have increased manifold in recent years to around Rs 16,000 crore during FY 2022-23, up from Rs 900 crore in 2014, he said.
Singh called for harnessing the country’s full potential to realize PM Modi’s dream of a strong, prosperous, self-reliant, and developed India by 2047.
The minister urged research institutes to speed up activities in advanced technology and achieve progress to make India fully capable of dealing with emerging threats related to cyber and space.
Science and technology and warfare methods are evolving rapidly and there is a need to make fast progress in advanced technology to deal with non-kinetic or contactless warfare, which the world today is witnessing, in addition to the conventional methods, he said.
During the conference, the minister, also the Chancellor of DIAT, awarded degrees to 283 students, including 261 M.Tech/M.Sc students and 22 Ph.D. students from various disciplines.