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Rajnath invites defence majors to invest in India

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BANGKOK (PTI): India has set a target of exporting military equipment worth USD five billion by 2025, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said inviting global defence majors to be part of India growth story.

In an address at a seminar 'India rising' here on Monday he said, the Modi government was committed to make the country a major hub of defence manufacturing and transform it into a USD 26 billion industry in the next six years.

Singh said USD 10 billion investment in aerospace and defence goods and services was expected by 2025 which could provide employment to 2-3 million people.

He is in Bangkok primarily to attend the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) grouping, a platform comprising ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners including India.

The defence minister said a new policy for transfer of technology (ToT) was being formulated to simplify the process to transfer technology developed by DRDO to the industry.

He said more than 900 ToT licensing agreements had been signed with industries so far.

"The government has set a target of taking India's defence exports to USD five billion by 2025 under the 'Draft Defence Production Policy 2018'," Singh said.

"On one hand this target is ambitious, but at the same time it is encouraging that India's defence exports have grown almost six-fold in the last two years," he added.

Singh said the defence sector was given prominence under the 'Make in India' initiative and the aim is to reduce dependence on imports and make the country a net exporter of defence equipment and platforms.

He also listed out various initiatives taken by the defence ministry to encourage exports.

These include, simplification of procedures for exports, simplification of industry licensing process, increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) cap, streamlining of defence offset policy and making government trial and testing facilities available to the private sector, he said.

Singh said the defence procurement procedure was revised in 2016 to encourage the domestic defence industry. A new category 'Buy Indian - IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured) was introduced to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment.

"The government's desire to establish two defence corridors in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh is clear. A Defence innovation hub is already functioning in Coimbatore. A Defence Planning Committee has also been formed," said Singh, listing steps to encourage the domestic defence manufacturing.

"The government of Uttar Pradesh has planned to build a defence manufacturing corridor along with the proposed Bundelkhand expressway which will help in making India self-reliant in the field of defence production," Singh added.

He said government had undertaken far-reaching reforms in the last five and a half years to increase synergy between public and private sectors.

"It has contributed positively in defence production and procurement. Work is on to introduce a common testing and certification scheme under a public private partnership model to create an enabling environment," he said.

Singh voiced the government's resolve to promote self-reliance in defence through five I's - Identification, Incubation, Innovation, Integration and Indigenisation.

He said the defence ministry has set a target to fund 250 startups, 16 personal initiatives and five defence innovation hubs through Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) in the next five years.

Singh also invited domestic and overseas investors to actively participate in the forthcoming DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5-8 next year.

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