Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday emphasised the need to reduce Defence imports and make more products in the country, leading to the creation of several thousand jobs. Inaugurating Aero India 2015, South-Asia’s biggest air show, Modi said even a 20-25 per cent reduction in imports could directly create 1-1.2 lakh highly skilled jobs in India.

“If we can raise the percentage of domestic procurement from 40 per cent to 70 per cent in the next five years, we would double the output in our Defence industry,” Modi said. The country, he said, has the reputation of being the largest importer of Defence equipment in the world. “That may be music to the ears of some of you here. But this is one area where we would not like to be No 1.” He said the country needs to increase its Defence preparedness as well as modernise its forces. Despite nearly 60 per cent of India’s Defence equipment being imported, the domestic industry employs several thousands, he pointed out.

“We are expanding the role of the private sector, even for major platforms. Our goal is to provide a level-playing field for all.” Modi also said the Centre plans to improve the offset system in consultation with both the domestic industry and foreign partners.

In a candid note, Anil Ambani, chairman of the ADAG Group, said decision-making in the Defence sector is hamstrung by the fear of regulatory censure and investigative overreach.

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