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Being self-sufficient in defence sector linked to 'self-respect', 'sovereignty' of country: Rajnath

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NEW DELHI (PTI):  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said a country that depends on imports for its military equipment can never be strong and asserted that being self-sufficient in the defence sector is linked to "self-respect" and "sovereignty".

India is one of the most lucrative markets for global defence giants and the country has figured among the top three global importers of military hardware for the last eight years.

Singh also mentioned the government's decision to put restrictions on import of 101 weapon and military platforms, including light combat helicopters, conventional submarines and cruise missiles, under a staggered time-line till 2024.

"This single decision has created an opportunity to manufacture defence equipment worth Rs 52,000 crore per year in India," he said at an event.

Singh also said that "a country that depends on imports for its defence equipment can never be strong". "Therefore, being self-sufficient in the defence sector is very important and it is linked to the 'self-respect' and 'sovereignty' of our country," he said.

The government's decision to make India "self-reliant" does not mean that doors are being closed, but signifies that more doors are being opened for companies to do manufacturing in the country, Singh said.

The Indian armed forces are projected to spend around USD 130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years, according to estimates.

The central government will soon bring a new Defence Production and Procurement Policy, he said online during the event titled "Deendayal Smriti Vakhyayan".

Bhartiya Jan Sangh co-founder Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay's 104th birth anniversary was on Friday.

"What is the point of importing things that are being manufactured in India or that can be manufactured in India easily? When we would become 'vocal for local', we would not only be getting things that can be manufactured in India easily, but we would also be encouraged to manufacture those products that are currently not being made in the country," Singh said.

Speaking on the farm bills, which were recently passed by Parliament, the minister said that the commitment towards welfare of farmers dates back to the days of Deendayal Upadhyay.

"No one can deter us from this path. For the first time after Independence, Atalji (former prime minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee) had made the country's villages, poor people and farmers the centre of his policies. Now, Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is working on the same path and in a big way," Singh said.

He said that Prime Minister Modi has taken such steps that will help farmers get a better price for their produce.

Several opposition parties, including the Congress, have claimed that the bills -- Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 -- will harm the interest of farmers and benefit corporates, a claim denied by the government.

The Centre has asserted the bills will be beneficial for farmers and increase their income.

"The farmer of this country is not forced to mortgage his hard work in mandis now. After the passage of these bills, every farmer of the country will be free to sell his crop anywhere in the country, where he gets a better price," Singh said.

The minister also spoke on the three key labour reform bills which were passed by Parliament on Wednesday

"In this country, there were so many laws for the workers that it became almost impossible for the labourers to get their rights. Now, the government has passed the new Labour Bill in Parliament and laid the foundation for new labour reforms in the country," Singh said.

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