Attacking the NDA government for raising the FDI limit to 49 per cent in the defence sector, former Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday said that previous governments had overcome the “pressure tactics” of “lobbies” working for 100 per cent FDI in the key area.
“I know a very strong lobby is working. Their demand is 100 per cent FDI in defence. Successive governments since 1991 have overcome such pressure tactics. Their decision not to grant FDI beyond 26 per cent in the defence sector was well thought out,” said the senior Congress leader.
As part of the previous UPA government, Antony shot down several proposals from the Commerce Ministry to raise the FDI limit and stuck to the stand of allowing only up to 26 per cent foreign investment in the military-industrial sector.
Coming down heavily on the Narendra Modi government, Antony said that “the proposal to increase FDI from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in defence production will harm our national security”.
While presenting Union Budget 2014-15, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that India is the largest buyer of defence equipment in the world and its domestic manufacturing capacities were still at a nascent stage. The country meets a substantial part of its defence requirements by buying directly from foreign players.
Antony said that with this decision, gradually all the defence manufacturing companies in India will come under the control of foreign multi-national companies, which are in turn controlled by the big powers.
“Hitherto, India was following an independent foreign policy and strategic independence and we scrupulously avoided joining any of the military blocks even though we are friendly with almost all the important countries.
“We have always taken special care to see that we are not aligning with any military block,” he added.
Antony said that the increased FDI limit would allow foreign powers to interfere indirectly in Indian joint venture defence partnership programmes with powerful countries.
While Delhi was ruled by the Congress during the major part of the period under study, Jain said the white paper was not a political move.