Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has tried to play down the news that Defence Minister A.K. Antony has snubbed him on his proposal to allow more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defence sector.

‘Calibrated approach’

Speaking to a group of Indian journalists at the sidelines of Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, Sharma on the views expressed by the Defence Minister, Sharma said, “This is a dialogue within the Government. There is a view point which is in favour.

“The Finance Minister and me and many of our colleagues have been in favour. But defence is a sensitive sector and our aim is for a calibrated approach”.

The Defence Minister has responded to a letter written by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion seeking his view on the Mayaram panel’s proposal of increasing FDI in defence from 24 per cent to 49 per cent.

“This a very polite letter. Don’t go by the captions that are given (in newspapers). We will continue to engage with each other and look at all aspects. Nobody is opposed when it comes to induction of new technologies of manufacturing systems in the country. I am sure that will happen and we will discuss it among ourselves,” Sharma added.

According to reports, the Defence Minister had firmly opposed the move to hike FDI in defence, arguing that encouraging foreign participation to set up manufacturing base in India will not be good.

He, however, agreed on moving on a case-to-case basis for increasing the FDI limit from the present 26 per cent in if it leads to greater access to modern technology in the sector.

(The correspondent is on a trip sponsored by Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority)

(This article was published on July 5, 2013)
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