Nearly 70 per cent of the total procurement of defence forces has been sourced from domestic manufacturers, President Droupadi Murmu said in her Presidential address to the joint session of Parliament on Thursday.

Outlining the reform in the military sector initiated in the last decade, President Murmu said the defence forces have decided not to import 500 defence items. This was to give opportunity to domestic industry to join the self-reliance initiative for production of military spares, sub-assemblies and critical systems in the country.

“Modernisation of our armed forces is essential for a strong India. Reforms in our armed forces should be a continuous process so that our forces maintain their supremacy during wars,” she told the newly elected MPs.

She said the reform like appointment of Chief of Defence Staff gave new strength to the defence forces. President was of the view that the defence sector greatly benefited from reform in ordnance factories. More than 40 ordnance factories were restructured into 7 defence sector enterprises, she stated.

“It is due to such reforms that India is now manufacturing defence equipment worth more than ₹1-lakh crore,” President Murmu said.

As President read about defence reforms, the Opposition shouted about Agniveer — the non-permanent soldiers in the armed forces. The Congress and some other Opposition parties have committed that they will cancel Agnipath scheme of temporary recruitment of constabulary in Army, Navy and Air Force, when they come to power.

Murmu also said the defence exports have increased more than 18 times to ₹21,000 crore in the last decade. The BRahMos missile deal with Philippines has strengthened India’s standing in defence export sector.

“By providing encouragement to youth and their start-ups, the government has been able to lay down a strong foundation for a self-reliant defence sector,” the President observed. She also referred to the two defence corridors that have come up, one each in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

She also spoke of what she said that the government has always given priority to the needs of the armed forces personnel. “That is why after 4 decades, ‘One Rank, One Pension’ has been implemented. Under this, ₹1,20,000 crore have been disbursed till date,” she informed.

The government has also established National War Memorial at one end of Kartavya Path. “These efforts are not only salutations from a grateful nation for its brave soldiers but also a source of constant inspiration of the ideal of nation first,” the President stated.

Exam Irregularities

On the recent irregularities in the conduct of the NEET medical examination, she apprised the Parliamentarians that the government is committed to a fair investigation and ensuring strict punishment to the culprits. Murmu exhorted MPs to rise above party-politics and undertake concrete measures nation-wide. She pointed out, there were many instances of paper leaks in different States.