Making a case for innovative solutions by the industry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that soldiers can achieve an edge in the battlefield only through indigenous efforts and that the era of import dependence was over with the active participation of the private sector and startups in the sector.
“Innovation is critical and it has to be indigenous. Imported goods can’t be a source of innovation,” he said, addressing a naval seminar in the capital to kickstart the process of inducting 75 indigenous technologies.
The PM said India has reduced its defence import bill by over 21% in the past 4-5 years and is fast moving towards becoming a major weapons exporter, nudging the industry and forces to prepare for all domains of future warfare.
“We have talent. It is not smart to let soldiers go to the field with the same weapons that the world has. That risk cannot be taken. The soldier should have (equipment) that the opponent will not even be able to think of,” he added.
The PM said that means of warfare are no longer limited to land, sea and sky but are moving towards space, cyberspace, economic and social domains. “As India is establishing itself on the global stage, there are constant attacks through misinformation, disinformation and false publicity, etc. Keeping faith, the forces that are harming India’s interests, whether in the country or abroad, have to be thwarted in their every effort. National defence is no longer limited to borders, but is much broader,” he said.
Modi said that the defence budget in the past eight years has been increased and a large part of it has been earmarked for purchases from the Indian industry. He pointed out that last year, Rs 13,000 crore worth of defence exports were achieved, with 70% of these attributed to the private industry.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh said the Navy spent over 64% of its capital budget on domestic procurement in the last financial year, which is now expected to increase to 70%.
He said the role of the Indian Navy will increase further in the Indian Ocean Region in times to come, adding that the nation is moving towards becoming a major exporter of weapon systems. “The self-reliance efforts in the defence sector have transformed India’s image and we will soon become a global manufacturing hub,” he said.