SELF reliance in the defence sector will not only lead to better war preparedness and give boost to economy but will also curb the corrupt practices in Defence imports, said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in Pune on Sunday.
He was speaking at the 142nd chapter of the Vasant Vyakhyanmala or Spring Lecture Series. Presenting the topic ‘Defence Production: Self Reliance and Road Ahead’, the minister addressed a fully-packed audience at the Tilak Smarak Mandir Auditorium. Parrikar’s speech was full of stories, anecdotes and he did not shy away from passing satirical remarks on Puneites in his typical style.
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Parrikar stressed that as the nation tries to achieve self reliance in defence, Indians must learn to imbibe the philosophy of self reliance. He said self reliance in defence will lead to better war preparedness, as the nation will not have to depend on foreign powers for supplies in times of conflict. He added that it will also give huge booth to economy and create large number of jobs. “I have always felt that defence imports not only increase our dependence on other countries but also create an environment where corrupt practices can flourish. A lot of transactions remain out of purview of the Indian investigative agencies. Self reliance in defence will bring these practices down.” he said.
Commenting on the reports from Pentagon, that China has been raising troop strength on the border with India, Parrikar said the Armed Forces were fully prepared. Answering a question on a hypothetical situation of India having to face both adversaries at the same time, the minister said that India was prepared for that situation too but more can always be done in terms of preparedness specially infrastructure.
Asked about women being given permanent commission in the forces, Parrikar said though the issue is clear conceptually, a lot of work needs to be done on the infrastructure required for such training. He said three women were being trained to be inducted as fighter pilots into the Indian Air Force and the country would see its first set of women fighter pilots on June 18.
Meanwhile, Parrikar said he has held a series of meetings with officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Indian Air Force, Pune District Administration and State Government representatives to speed up the much-needed expansion of Lohegaon Airport. The expansion, he said, is likely to result in a 40 to 45 per cent capacity expansion of the airport.
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“This work on the 15.84 acre plot will be the Phase-I of the airport expansion. We are also considering another 30 acre plot which will constitute the Phase-II work. By the end of the Phase-II, the new airport for Pune city should be ready because beyond a certain limit, the Lohegaon cannot expand,” he added.