The government will adopt a “rational” approach to foreign direct investment in the defence sector keeping in mind the concerns raised by some sections of the Sangh Parivar, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said here on Tuesday. The minister was replying to a question relating to concerns expressed by the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch on the FDI policy in the defence sector in India on the sidelines of the inauguration of the 11th Aero India event.
Parrikar said the government would allow 100 per cent FDI only in areas where technologies are non-existent in India. He said that in a family, there is bound to be differences of opinion.
“We will take concerns into consideration and will not damage any national interest. We are doing it in a rational way after studying each case,’’ the defence minister said. “I will welcome 100 per cent FDI in areas where we don’t have expertise,” he said. “We are not doing it irrationally but the route is open,” he said.
The Swadeshi Jagaran Manch had staged protests around the country last year against the government’s FDI policy in various sectors including the defence.
Parrikar said that India would need a total of 1,000 aircraft in the next 10-15 years. “There may be 300 to 400 fighters required, another 800 to 1,000 helicopters are required. Helicopter engine requirement alone in the next few years is going to be 5,000 engines for new as well as replacement. LCA itself will need 123 multiplied by three or four. All this is huge potential for Indian companies,’’ the defence minister said.
The government will be taking decisions on big ticket acquisitions including single and twin engined fighters in the current calendar year. “Many private sector projects like self- propelled gun, C-295 (transporter aircraft) and single and twin-engine fighter jets are in an advanced stage of decision making,’’ Parrikar said.
On the fifth generation fighter to be developed with Russia, Parrikar said the project is in an advanced stage of finalisation but a few issues need to be addressed. “Some issues need to be addressed with respect to manufacturing after completion – how it will be exported, what will be the approvals and what is the mechanism. We have already put a team to go into these issues. In a month or so they will put out a report. Everything otherwise is in quite an advanced stage,’’ he said.
The minister for civil aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju who shared the dais with the defence minister said India is the fastest growing aviation sector in passenger terms in the world. The sector has the potential to graduate from the ninth in the world to being the third largest by 2022, he said.
The 11th edition of the Aero India event got off to a subdued start on Tuesday. With no major acquisitions on the cards for Indian forces the air show unlike previous years is quite a low key.
The Sukhoi 30 MKI, the Gripen fighter from Sweden’s SAAB, India’s LCA Tejas, Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Falcon from the US and the French Rafale are the main attractions. The Yakovlev aerobatic team, the Skycats, the Surya Kiran aerobatics team returning to the show in Hawk AJTs, and the Sarang helicopter display team are providing the stunt thrills.