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Defence import dependency could become hindrance to strategic autonomy: Rajnath Singh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addresses during the 12th convocation ceremony of Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), in Pune, Monday, May 15, 2023. Photo: PTI.

PUNE (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said self-reliance in defence is essential for strengthening the security apparatus of the country.

Addressing the 12th convocation ceremony of Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) in Pune, Singh said dependence on import of defence equipment can become a hindrance to India's strategic autonomy.

This is the reason the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making all-out efforts to achieve self-reliance in the sector, he said.

"Without self-reliance, we cannot take independent decisions on global issues in line with our national interests. More equipment we import; more adverse impact it will have on our balance of trade.

"We aim to become a net exporter instead of net importer. It will not only strengthen our economy, but increase employment opportunities," he said.

Singh said self-reliance does not mean isolation from the world. "Today, the world has become a global village and isolation isn't possible. The aim of self-reliance is to meet the needs of the armed forces by building necessary equipment/platforms with our own capacity while fulfilling the security requirements of our friendly countries," he said.

He spoke of steps taken by the Ministry of Defence to promote self-reliance, including promulgation of four positive indigenisation lists for armed forces comprising 411 systems/equipment.

Singh said special emphasis is being laid by the government in the field of innovation, adding India has become the second largest hub for start-ups.

The Ministry of Defence is constantly receiving innovative ideas, he said. "Over 6,000 applications were received in the last seven editions of the Defence India Start-up Challenge, which indicates that Indian start-ups are contributing significantly in the pursuit of self-reliance in the defence sector. More patents are being filed, which is a sign of the innovative prowess," he said.

India is manufacturing rifles, BRAHMOS missiles, Light Combat Aircraft and indigenous aircraft carriers on its own, Singh said.

Defence exports have increased manifold in recent years to around Rs 16,000 crore during FY 2022-23, up from Rs 900 crore in 2014, he said.

India is exporting defence equipment to many countries, with many showing interest and faith in the country's manufacturing capabilities, he said.

Singh called for harnessing the country's full potential to realise PM Modi's dream of a strong, prosperous, self-reliant and developed India by 2047.

The minister exhorted research institutes to speed up activities in advanced technology and achieve progress to make India fully capable of dealing with emerging threats related to cyber and space.

Science and technology and methods of warfare are evolving at a rapid pace and there is a need to make fast progress in advanced technology to deal with non-kinetic or contactless warfare, which the world today is witnessing, in addition to the conventional methods, he said.

During the convocation, the minister, who is also the Chancellor of DIAT, awarded degrees to 283 students, including 261 M.Tech/M.Sc students and 22 PhD students from various disciplines.


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