Pitching for the transformation of India’s defence industry, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has enlisted the support of foreign investors for the success of ‘Make in India’ campaign for modernising the country’s military and industrial complex.
Inaugurating the 10th edition of the South Asia’s biggest air show ‘Aero India 2015’ at the Air Force Station Yelahanka near Bengaluri on February 18, the prime minister said it was important to modernise India’s defence forces and increase preparedness and voiced confidence that the country can emerge as a global centre for defence industry.
India is one of the largest importers of defence equipment. Mr Modi stressed that this is one area where he would not like India to be number one and made a robust pitch for cutting down on defence imports to make the country empowered and self-sufficient in cutting-edge defence technologies.
Defence Ministers and officials of equivalent ranks of six countries – the USA, Russia, Israel, Germany and others — are participating the aero show.
Aero India 2015, which is held from February 18 to 22, is aimed at sourcing investments from global aerospace companies to boost Modi’s ‘Make in India’ mission, an initiative to advance indigenous manufacturing in defence, civil aerospace and industrial sectors.
Calling this edition as the largest ever Aero India, Mr Modi said it reflected a “new level of confidence within our country and global interest in India.” He stressed it was a mega meeting of one of the largest global supply chains with the most advanced technology and complex equipment.
Mr Modi noted that a strong Indian defence industry will not only make India more secure but also more prosperous. “Aero India is a platform to launch India’s defence manufacturing sector, boost investment, raise the level of technology. Aero India can be a catalyst in realising our goals for the defence industry,” Modi added in his remarks.
To highlight the importance of manufacturing in job creation, he said, “Our defence industry in private sector is still small, but has already employed thousands of people. 60 percent of our defence equipment continues to be imported; even 20-25% decrease in imports would create 100 thousand jobs in India.”
The Indian flying team, comprising LCH, Dhruv, Rudra, Sukhoi and Tiger Moth, is set to dazzle the air show. The foreign military aircrafts, who will showcase their prowess at the show, include F-15C Eagle, Lockheed F-16C, Boeing KC-135, Boeing C-17, Rafale and Embraer EMB-145I.
Secretary of Defence Production G. Mohan Kumar outlined the spur of the ‘Make in India’ campaign. “Besides 54 ministerial and other high-level delegations from several countries that are slated to attend the inaugural event, the exhibition will also see participation by over 600 companies, including 295 Indian and 328 foreign companies,” Kumar said.
Mr Modi also stressed on the significance of the involvement of the government in research and development in the defence sector.
“We must bridge the gap between prototype development and quality production… We need to develop a dynamic defence industry,” said the PM.
Mr Modi is the second prime minister to inaugurate the Aero India exhibition. The then Prime Minister H.D Deva Gowda opened the show in February 1997. According to a rough estimate, Aero India 2015 is going to attract more than 300, 000 visitors.
Highlights of PM Modi’s speech at AERO India 2015
- This is the largest ever Aero India.
- This reflects a new level of confidence within our country and global interest in India.
- We have to equip ourselves for the needs of the future, where technology will play a major role.
- This is a mega meeting of one of the largest global supply chains with the most advanced technology and complex equipment.
- This is a platform to launch India’s defence manufacturing sector.
- Preference to defence equipment manufacturers in India
- Want to become exporter of defence equipment
- 60% of our defence equipment continues to be imported.
- Studies show that even a 20 to 25% reduction in imports could directly create additional 100,000 to 120,000 highly skilled jobs.
- We are focusing on developing India’s defence industry with a sense of mission. This is why it is at the heart of make in India programme.
- I want our offsets policy not as a means to export low-end products but to acquire state-of-the art technology and skills.
- We must involve our scientists soldiers, academia, industry & independent experts more closely in research and development:
- We must ensure that our tax system does not discriminate against domestic manufacture in comparison to imports.
- We will build an industry that will have room for everyone- public sector, private sector and foreign firms.
- A strong Indian defence industry will not only make India more secure. It will also make India more prosperous.
(Vikas Lather contributed inputs for this article)
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