A total of Rs 82,496 crore was spent on buying military hardware and weapon systems from foreign vendors in the last three financial years. Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre, said the value of contracts signed with defence public sector undertakings between 2013-14 and 2015-16 was Rs 70,228 crore. He said government has taken a series of initiatives to achieve higher levels of indigenisation in the defence sector.
Bhamre said Rs 35,082 crore was spent on capital acquisition from foreign vendors in 2013-14, Rs 24,992 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 22,422 crore in 2015-16. “A total of 342 licenses have been issued to 205 Indian companies for manufacture of defence items,” he said. Though defence exports are covered under the Export and Import (EXIM) Policy issued by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), he said Ministry of Defence has formulated a separate Defence Export Strategy to give a fillip to defence exports.
Asked about number of women officers in the armed forces, Bhamre said the Army has a total of 1,528 women officers, Navy has 469 and their strength in the IAF is 1,581. The number of women in medical services is 1,288 and 4094 in nursing services. He said six complaints of harassment and discrimination were received from women officers in the Army between 2014 and 2016 while three compaints were received by Navy in the last eight years and two by IAF in the last two years.
To a separate question, the Minister said 58 defence personnel died between 2014 and 2016 due to natural calamities. Replying to another query, he said the government has set up a three-member committee of officers to look into “equivalence between service officers and armed forces headquarters civil service officers.” The Committee is likely to submit its findings by March 31.
On a question on INS Virat which was decommissioned on March 6, Bhamre said a proposal for converting it to an aircraft museum on commercial basis was sent to the Defence Ministry by the Andhra Pradesh government last year. He said the Andhra government had requested 50 per cent equity participation of Defence Ministry in their proposed Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the museum. The proposal was not accepted by the Ministry.