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New Delhi : Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on August 20, 2019, emphasised the need to progressively reduce dependence on foreign manufacturers and indigenously develop comprehensive capabilities in the defence sector.

Delivering the inaugural address at a seminar on ‘Modernisation and Indigenisation plans of the Indian Air Force’ in New Delhi, Rajnath urged the private industry to take advantage of the policy initiatives of the Government and engage with defence services, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for meeting their indigenisation demands. He reiterated the government’s commitment to resolving any outstanding issue in the way of growth and development of Indigenous Industries in defence sector. He asked the industry not to expect any short-term returns but invest for long term gains.

The Defence Minister described Indian Air Force as a technologically advanced and extremely potent force saying that the recent offensive against terror outfits in our neighbourhood speaks volumes of the reach and lethality of the formidable arm of the Armed Forces. Indian Air Force, besides Army and Navy, needs to keep pace with the advancements in technology for enhancing operational capabilities, he added.

Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to modernise our Armed Forces, Rajnath said efforts are being made to increase the participation of the private sector in ‘Make in India’ in defence sector. Listing out the Government’s initiatives to promote ‘Make in India’, he said foreign investment up to 49 % was allowed through automatic route and up to 100% under Government route on case-to-case basis.

He urged foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to establish manufacturing facilities in India adding that a number of opportunities are available to foreign companies through FDI, Joint Ventures or the defence offset route. Rajnath also said the process of defence offset implementation has been streamlined and one of the major demands of the industry to reinstate the provision of services for discharge of offsets has now been provided.

Rajnath announced approval for use of test facilities of government entities for the private industry to meet the best quality standards required for defence manufacturing. He said the decision to this effect has been taken after incorporating the comments of the stakeholders particularly indigenous defence manufacturers.

Rajnath said the defence products list for issuing industrial licenses under Industry Development and Regulation (IDR) Act has been revised adding that it has reduced the entry barriers for the industry especially the small and medium segment. The initial validity of Industrial license has been increased from three years to fifteen years with a provision to further extend it by three years on a case-to-case basis, he added.

He also referred to the Technology Development Fund (TDF) Scheme which has been established under the aegis of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to promote self-reliance in Defence Technology as part of ‘Make in India’ initiative. He said the scheme will encourage participation of public/private industries especially MSMEs so as to create an ecosystem for enhancing cutting edge technology capability for defence application, according to a PIB release.

In his keynote address, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa pitched for inhouse manufacturing of defence equipment and called for fine tuning the capabilities to meet the requirements. He said there is a need to replace obsolete war-fighting equipment with indigenous technology and bridge technological gaps in the defence sector. The Air Force is always alert on the border irrespective if there is any movement or not, he added.

Two books on indigenisation efforts of defence equipment were also released on the occasion.

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