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Collaboration with foreign companies is intrinsic to becoming 'atmanirbhar' in defence production: Army Chief

Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande speaks during the 2nd Military Ammunition Conference Ammo India 2022, at FICCI in New Delhi, Thursday, July 28, 2022. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Collaboration with foreign companies is intrinsic to India's ambition of becoming 'atmanirbhar' (self-reliant) in defence production and the relationship with them is now of co-development and co-production, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande has said.

The geostrategic security environment has witnessed significant changes in recent times, leading to recalibration of established world order, he said in his speech on Thursday at event at industry body FICCI.

"India's security concerns emanate from the geopolitical dynamics at both -- global as well as the regional level. These include the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as the instability and the political uncertainty that we see in our immediate neighbourhood," he said.

The contemporary security environment and the changing character of war requires that the Indian armed forces must be prepared to handle wide spectrum of challenges in conventional and sub-conventional domains, the Army Chief noted.

Undoubtedly, our interests are best served by being atmanirbhar, especially in defence production, he stated.

Self-reliance is one of the key factors on which the military capability of any nation rests, he said.

There are new opportunities for "our foreign partners" and Atmanirbharta (self-reliance) is not only about isolating ourselves from the world, he noted.

It is about self-sustaining and pursuing policies that promote efficiency, quality and resilience, Pande added.

"It has been unequivocally stated that collaboration with foreign OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) is intrinsic to our aim of Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India), and we have moved from our relationship of a buyer and a seller to the one of co-development and co-production with our foreign partners," he said.

And the ongoing reforms in the defence sector offers opportunities to the foreign OEMs to partner with Indian companies and work towards our shared objectives, he said.

There is huge potential for export which can also contribute to the vision of our Prime Minister to become USD 5 trillion economy in the foreseeable future, Pande added.

A holistic, all-encompassing, well-calibrated, multi-pronged, and futuristic approach in defence production is fundamental in safeguarding our national interests, he mentioned.

A pragmatic and actionable indigenous defence production strategy would ensure a secure and sustained supply of armaments and ammunitions to cater for our national security needs, the Army Chief said.

Since independence, significant experience, skills, technologies and competencies have even acquired by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the erstwhile ordnance factories and the defence public sector companies, he said.

"I believe these offer the foundation to build new capabilities by sharing this expertise with the private sector, including the startups and the MSMEs. Much work is underway in this direction. And I think there is more scope for greater synergy and handholding," he stated.

This would lead to evolving a more cooperative and collaborative framework involving all the stakeholders, which will reduce the dependence on import of ammunitions and provide the required impetus to indigenous production, he noted.

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