Moving fast from being biggest defence importer to big exporter: Modi

India’s defence imports have decreased by about 21% in the last four to five years and this has happened in such a short time, PM Modi says

Published - July 18, 2022 08:41 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) seminar ‘Swavlamban’, in New Delhi, on July 18, 2022.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) seminar ‘Swavlamban’, in New Delhi, on July 18, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

India’s defence imports have decreased by about 21% in the last four to five years and this has happened in such a short time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday while stating that we are moving fast from being the “biggest defence importer to a big exporter”.

“Our defence exports have increased seven times in the last eight years. Very recently, our countrymen were filled with pride when they came to know that last year, we had achieved defence exports worth ₹13,000 crore and of this 70% was from the private sector,” Mr. Modi said speaking at the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) seminar ‘Swavlamban’.

Talking of the push for domestic defence manufacturing, Mr. Modi said in the last eight years, they have not only increased the defence budget, but also ensured that this budget is utilised for the development of the defence manufacturing ecosystem within the country. “Today, a major part of the budget is earmarked for the purchase of defence equipment from Indian companies only,” he stated.

Mr. Modi unveiled ‘SPRINT Challenges’ aimed at the development of 75 indigenous technologies/products by the industry for induction into the Navy. He also witnessed the demonstration of an electric human-carrying drone which was described as the country’s first such drone.

In addition to defence applications, this drone can have extensive use in medical emergencies to transport patients to hospitals quickly and also in the farm sector for logistics support, said Nikunj Parashar, founder and CEO of Sagar Defence which has developed the drone. They are working very closely with the Navy which has gone out of the way to support its development, he added.

The drone can be used to transfer load between two ships on the high seas, and currently it can withstand rough conditions up to sea state 3, Mr. Parashar explained. “It can carry up to 130 kg and has an endurance of 25-35 minutes depending on the load. There are some inefficiencies as it is an experimental model. The next version should be able to carry 150-200 kg,” he explained.

The goal of self-reliance of the Indian armed forces is very important and essential for the 21st century, Mr. Modi stressed. Learning from the approach of the past decades, today we are developing a new defence ecosystem with the strength of everyone’s efforts, he said while stating that defence research and development has been opened for private sector, academia, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and start-ups.

Talking of the widespread threats to national security, Mr. Modi said earlier defence was focussed only on land, sea and sky while now the scope is moving towards space, cyberspace, economic and social space.

As India is establishing itself on the global stage, there are constant attacks through misinformation and disinformation, Mr. Modi said adding, “The forces that are harming the interests of India, whether in the country or abroad, their every effort has to be thwarted.”

Earlier, addressing the seminar, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar announced that they are in the process of starting the development of a marine diesel engine within the country. Till now we have been dependent on imports, and the proposed engine when ready would power naval ships, he stated.

“We are also in the process of manufacturing heavyweight helicopters of 10 tonnes and above to meet requirements of all three services, which will be taken up shortly in partnership with the industry,” Mr. Kumar said. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has taken up the design and development of an indigenous Multi-Role Helicopter intended to replace the Mi-17s in service.

While noting that 39 ships and submarines are currently under construction in India, Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral S.N. Ghormade stated the Navy is currently hand-holding 40 start-ups which are developing a range of niche technologies.

The event also had an exhibition with several companies and start-ups showcasing their products in advanced stages of development with support from the Defence Ministry and Navy.

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