The precondition of peace is bravery, the precondition of bravery is strength, and the precondition of strength is pre-preparation, and everything else comes after that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said yesterday (22 February).
He followed it up with a line from a poem by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, which loosely translates as, “The world respects patience, forgiveness and mercy only when it is backed by visible power”.
Modi was addressing a webinar on the effective implementation of provision in the 2021-22 Budget in defence sector, and the messaging was clear — India can’t be a great power unless it overcomes its import dependence in the defence sector.
This wasn’t a new message. In fact, the line has been repeated often over the years, but very little had been done to implement it. This time, however, it came right after the Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, announced plans to use 63 per cent of the outlay for capital expenditure in the Defence Budget on domestic procurement.
The Prime Minister reinforced this intent with the commitment of not buying from foreign vendors any weapon platform or defence equipment that can be designed, developed and manufactured in India.
“I assure all of you in this meeting today that there will be no approach to importing equipment related to the defence sector that the country has the capacity to design and manufacture, either in the public or private sector,” Modi said, throwing his weight behind the Defence Minister’s push for procurement from domestic vendors.
Creating a potent defence manufacturing ecosystem is not possible without the participation of the private sector, the Prime Minister said, adding that the negative list on imports offers the sector an opportunity to increase its manufacturing capacity.
The negative list on defence imports is, in fact, a positive list, Modi said, adding that it will ensure products made in India are guaranteed to be sold in the country.
“The defence equipment designed and manufactured in the country will be in accordance with the needs of India, according to our climate, according to the nature of our people, and the possibility of continuous innovation is inherent in it,” he said.
The Prime Minister also noted the scope for defence exports, saying India had the capacity to manufacture good quality products at a relatively low cost, which is attractive for small countries with limited resources.
“Due to the new challenges in the changing global environment, even small countries are now having to worry about their security. These small countries will look to India for their security needs as we have the strength of low-cost manufacturing. India's evolving defence sector has a huge role to play, and a huge opportunity,” he said.
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