Thiruvidanthai (Tamil Nadu), April 12 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that the government was keen to foster creative entrepreneurship in defence manufacturing.
He also said that the government was committed to building a defence industrial complex that has room for public and private sectors and foreign firms.
Inaugurating the DefExpo 2018 here, Modi said new and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will perhaps be the most important determinants of defensive and offensive capabilities for any defence force in the future.
He said India, with its leadership in Information Technology domain, would strive to use this technology tilt to its advantage.
“Our dream is to develop the ecosystem to foster an environment of new and creative entrepreneurship in the defence manufacturing sector,” Modi said.
He said government will undertake extensive consultations with all stakeholders about India’s defence production and defence procurement policy space for the purpose.
“Our aim is not just to discuss, but to draw the right lessons. Our intention is not to lecture, but to listen. Our goal is not merely to tinker, but to transform. We want to move fast. But, we do not want to take short cuts,” he said.
Modi said the government will be guided by the highest ideals of integrity and probity in its efforts to “pursue efficiency and effectiveness” in partnerships.
The Prime Minister compared the pace of decision-making during the previous United Progressive Alliance government with that of his government and said policies being pursued have brought “some encouraging initial results”.
He said the number of defence licences issued through a “much more transparent and predictable process” has gone up by 144 in the last four years from 215 in May 2014.
Modi said the total number of defence export permissions granted stood at 118 with a total value of $577 million in May 2014. “In less than four years, we have issued 794 more export permissions, for a total value of over $1.3 billion.”
He said between 2007 and 2013, the targeted offsets obligations were $1.24 billion, of which only $0.79 billion worth of offsets were actually discharged at an achievement rate of about 63 per cent.
“From 2014 to 2017, the targeted offsets obligations were $1.79 billion, of which $1.42 billion worth of offsets were realised. This is an achievement rate of close to 80 per cent,” he said.
Modi said that procurement from micro and small enterprises by the defence public sector undertakings and ordnance factories has gone up from about Rs 3,300 crore in 2014-15 to over Rs 4,250 crore in 2016-17, marking an increase of about 30 per cent.
Modi said the defence industry was closed to the private sector till May 2001 and was first opened up by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
He said foreign direct investment cap has been increased from 26 to 49 per cent through the automatic route, and even up to 100 per cent on a case-to-case basis.
Modi said share of Indian vendors in the procurement orders placed through defence capital expenditure has gone up from about 50 per cent during 2011-14 to over 60 per cent in last three years.
“… we need to do a lot more. And, we are committed to do so. We are committed to building a defence industrial complex that has room for everyone — public sector, private sector, as well as foreign firms,” he said.
Referring to initiatives like ‘Make In India’, ‘Startup India’, and ‘Atal Innovation Mission’, he said these aim at encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.
Modi said defence products list for the purpose of issuing licences has been revised to reduce entry barriers for the industry, especially for the small and medium enterprises.
He said initial validity of industrial licences has been increased and offset guidelines made flexible.