Announcing an embargo on 101 items “beyond given timeline” to boost indigenous production in defence sector under government’s flagship programme ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan’, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Sunday said that the coronavirus pandemic has showed that a country might not be able to effectively protect sovereignty if it is not self-reliant.
With major and tough decisions being taken to promote self-reliance in defence production, big weapon systems will now be produced in India, Singh added. He also stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to nation on August 15, will present outline for self-reliant India. Read in Malayalam
The minister also said that the decision will prove to be a great opportunity to the sector to “manufacture the items in the negative list by using their own design and development capabilities or adopting the technologies designed & developed by DRDO to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces.”
Criticising the move, Congress leader P Chidambaram hit out at the defence minister and said that the announcement was a “high sounding jargon”. The defence minister promised a “bang” on a Sunday morning and ended with a “whimper”, Chidambaram said in a series of tweets.
Import Embargo is high sounding jargon. What it means is we will try to make the same equipment (that we import today) in 2 to 4 years and stop imports thereafter!
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) August 9, 2020
“The only importer of defence equipment is the Defence Ministry. Any import embargo is really an embargo on oneself,” the former home minister said. “Import embargo is high sounding jargon. What it means is we will try to make the same equipment (that we import today) in 2 to 4 years and stop imports thereafter!” he added.
Making the announcement on Twitter, Singh wrote, “The Ministry of Defence is now ready for a big push to #AtmanirbharBharat initiative. MoD will introduce import embargo on 101 items beyond given timeline to boost indigenisation of defence production.”
The Ministry of Defence is now ready for a big push to #AtmanirbharBharat initiative. MoD will introduce import embargo on 101 items beyond given timeline to boost indigenisation of defence production.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) August 9, 2020
Taking cue from PM Modi’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat push, Singh added that the Ministry of Defence has prepared a list of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them. He added that the step is a “big step towards self-reliance in defence.”
He added that the the embargo on imports is planned to be progressively implemented between 2020 and 2024. “Our aim is to apprise the Indian defence industry about the anticipated requirements of the Armed Forces so that they are better prepared to realise the goal of indigenisation,” he added.
The list of 101 embargoed items comprises some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircraft, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars and many other items.
Singh said that of these products, items worth almost Rs 1,30,000 crore each are anticipated for the Army and the Air Force, while items worth almost Rs 1,40,000 crore are anticipated by the Navy.
He added that all necessary steps would be taken to ensure that timelines for domestic production of equipment identified under a negative list for import are met. “More such equipment for import embargo would be identified progressively by the DMA in consultation with all stakeholders,” he said.
He also added that a separate budget head has been created with an outlay of nearly Rs 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement in the current financial year.
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