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Monday, March 4, 2024

India: From Defence Importer To Global Leader In Defence Exports

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By: Dipak Kurmi

India’s journey in the realm of defence production has witnessed remarkable shifts in recent years. Once a major importer of sophisticated defence technology, the country has embarked on a path to self-sufficiency and global leadership in defence exports. This transformation is crucial, not only to alleviate the burden of escalating defence expenditures but also to solidify India’s strategic role on the global stage.

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Since its independence, India had focused its efforts on developing state-owned industries and research capabilities in defence production. However, progress was limited, and the gestational period for arms development was prolonged. The lack of technology transfer in import contracts further hindered the growth and indigenization of the defence sector. Defence exports remained minimal, and the country’s reliance on foreign suppliers persisted.

Recognizing the need for self-reliance and to shed the shackles of dependence on a single country, India has implemented the Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India) initiative in defence production. The government has formulated policies to facilitate production, encourage private and public sector participation, and attract foreign direct investment (FDI). The “Defence procurement, acquisition and production policy” of 2018, with subsequent amendments, has opened up defence production to both public and private sectors while increasing the FDI limit.

To further stimulate domestic defence procurement, the government is establishing two state-of-the-art defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. These corridors will serve as vibrant ecosystems, fostering collaboration between foreign firms and Indian partners, while ensuring technology transfer and boosting domestic production. The policy has already yielded positive results, with a significant decline in defence imports since 2014 and a substantial increase in defence exports.

India’s defence exports have witnessed a meteoric rise, crossing nearly Rs 1 lakh crore (USD 14 billion) in value. The government has set an ambitious target of achieving annual defence exports worth Rs 36,500 crore (USD 5 billion) by 2025. The private sector plays a pivotal role in this growth, with over 350 companies contributing to almost 70% of total defence exports. Western aero and defence giants such as Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Safran have also entered the Indian defence market, fueling modernization and technological advancements through dual-use technology.

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India’s defence exports have reached 84 countries worldwide, with a diverse range of military equipment being exported. From coastal surveillance systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and light transport aircraft to missile systems, tanks, and artillery guns, India’s defence capabilities are being recognized globally. Major importers include Italy, Russia, France, Germany, South Africa, and the United States, among others.

While India has made significant strides in defence exports, there is room for growth in high-tech and sophisticated domains such as fifth-generation fighter aircraft, warships, hypersonic missiles, submarines, and aerospace technology. The government’s strategic partnership model and financial incentives through schemes like the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) aim to attract cutting-edge technology and promote collaboration between the public and private sectors.

To further expedite progress, it is essential to foster research and development, technology transfer, and collaboration. A unified department of integrated research and monitoring could serve as a common platform for stakeholders from various fields, promoting synergy and maximizing the utilization of resources. Nanotechnology, optics, semiconductors, metallurgy, and other relevant domains should converge under this umbrella, facilitating innovation and nation-building.

India’s transformation from a defence importer to a global leader in defence exports is well underway. The nation’s commitment to self-sufficiency and its burgeoning defence production capabilities are reshaping the global dynamics in the sector. As India unlocks its potential, it is poised to become a force to be reckoned with in the defence industry, bolstering national security and establishing itself as a prominent exporter of cutting-edge military technology. (The writer is a journalist and commentator based in Guwahati, can be reached at dipaknewslive@gmail.com)

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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