Government of India has set a target of achieving defence manufacturing worth Rs 1,75,000 crore, including defence exports of Rs 35,000 crore by 2024-25. India is rapidly progressing towards its ambitious goal of becoming self-reliant.
The Indian defence sector has received special attention on this front. Promoting defence manufacturing is one of the prongs of the multi-pronged approach of India to insulate itself from external pressures.
India is attempting to go an extra mile to make sure that it can create an elbow space and position in global defence manufacturing, and production is full-proof in this intense cut-throat competition.
Defence manufacturing is entwined with the key areas that the Indian Government is eyeing at. This synergises with the key goals of strengthening the Indian economy, improving India’s standing at international forums, boosting innate technical development, promoting the young talent pool and human resources, etc.
Recently, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, said the value of production undertaken by private companies and state-run defence manufacturers in 2021-22 was Rs 86,078 crore.
The amount was Rs 88,631 crore in 2020-21 and Rs 63,722 crore in 2019-20. The production value was Rs 50,499 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 54,951 crore in 2017-18.
The Minister also stated the value of defence exports in 2021-22 was Rs 12,815 crore, while it was Rs 13,398 crore till March 6 in the current fiscal.
Modernisation of the Indian defence sector is seminal. To combat future challenges, emerging technologies, and fluxing situations, India is putting efforts to comprehensively make the defence sector resilient to modern and abstract threats.
There has been a steady increase in the share of the capital acquisition budget. Minister claimed, “An amount of Rs 1,24,408.66 crore has been earmarked for capital acquisitions in the financial year 2022-23, which has been increased to Rs 1,32,727 crore for the year 2023-24.”
He also said, “Further, the DRDO has undertaken 50 mission mode and technology development projects worth Rs 23,722 crore in the last three years for development of indigenous weapons and technologies.”
This sector has been more accommodating to women now. Minister has cited the example of the Indian Navy; it has opened all branches to women at graduate level entries. The branches are executive, engineering, electrical and education.
Why is defence manufacturing a strategic move?
With the current surges in the defence sector witnessed across countries like China and the US. It becomes a pertinent issue that India must review its benchmarks rationally. This favours India in addressing both its internal and external security adversities and issues.
Indian foreign policy believes in strategic autonomy, Indian defence sector, especially indigenous manufacturing is significant in realising this principle. The more independence, the more India liberates itself from the deadlock and manipulation of the big powers, which they build in the name of defence exports and imports.
This is a prophetic route to escape enslavement by the pivotal players having a monopoly in the defence sector. India needs to attain its aspirational objective of self-reliance and maintain its goodwill and without provoking conflict of interest.
Defence manufacturing will aid India to look for diverse partnerships and produce other constructive engagements to flourish the Indian footprint in the traditional security domain along with the ongoing dominant non-security realms.