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‘Laziness of past govts has hit defence’

Nayanima Basu Chennai | Updated on April 12, 2018 Published on April 12, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Defence Expo 2018 in Chennai on Thursday.   -  PIB India

NDA govt taking ‘bold action’ to meet critical requirements, Modi claims at DefExpo

Amidst raging controversy over the procurement of French Rafale fighter warplanes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to take a dig at the opposition stating that the “laziness, incompetence, hidden motives” under the previous UPA government have adversely impacted defence preparedness.

“There was a time when the critical issue of defence preparedness was hampered by policy paralysis. We have seen the damage such laziness, incompetence or perhaps some hidden motives, can cause to the nation. Not now, Not anymore, Never again,” Modi said addressing inaugurating DefExpo 2018 here on Thursday.

Defence equipment

He also cited the issue of the purchase of bullet-proof jackets for the soldiers which got mired into several bureaucratic procedures, which he said, is now resolved by placing an order that would boost defence manufacturing in India.

“You would also recall the long-drawn process of procurement of fighter aircraft that never reached any conclusion. We have not only taken bold action to meet our immediate critical requirements, but have also initiated a new process to procure 110 fighter aircraft,” Modi told a huge gathering of global defence manufacturers that are participating in DefExpo.

 

Last week the government issued RFI, first step towards procurement, to purchase 110 fighter planes from foreign vendors, out of which 94 will be made in India in collaboration with a domestic firm, and 16 will be bought in fly-away condition from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

Defence Industrial corridors

Modi also said that the government is committed to establish the two defence industrial corridors that were announced in this year’s budget. He said the two corridors that are coming up in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh will seek to utilise the existing defence manufacturing ecosytem. “The corridors will become engines of economic development and growth of defence industrial base,” the PM said.

 

He also urged global arms manufactures to invest in India and make the country as their next production and export hub. “I call all of you to participate in defence programmes of India. Our intention is not to lecture but to listen. Our goal is not to tinker but to transfer. We want to move fast but not take short cuts,” Modi added.

He also said India is fast transforming from being world’s largest arm importer to weapons exporter. “In May 2014, the total number of defence export permission granted stood at 118, for a total value of 577 million dollars. In less than four years, we have issued 794 more export permissions, for a total value of over 1.3 billion dollars,” he added.

The Prime Minister also said that the Defence Procurement Procedure has been revised with many specific provisions for stimulating growth of domestic defence industry. He said that the government has also de-notified some items earlier made exclusively by Ordnance Factories, so that private sector, especially the MSMEs can enter this space.

“We are conscious that defence manufacturing is unique in terms of government involvement. You need the government to grant a license to manufacture arms and ammunition. Since the government is almost the only buyer, you need the government to grant an order. You need the government even to grant permission to export,” he said.

Manufacturing

Modi said the government has several steps on defence manufacturing, on defence offsets, on defence exports clearances, on Foreign Direct Investment in defence manufacturing, and on reforming our defence procurement.

Loud chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” within the audience filled the sprawling inaugural hall just as the Prime Minister entered the inaugural hall and even when he concluded his speech.

Protests

Amidst tight security that has turned the sleepy town of Thiruvandathai, located on the outskirts of Chennai where the event is being held into a fortress, Modi was shown black flags, black balloons and even placards stating “Modi Go Back” by a swarm of protestors.

Protestors could be seen climbing billboards near the Chennai Airport and making human chains as Modi made his way to DefExpo. The protests are being held over Cauvery water dispute demanding constitution of the Cauvery water management boards.

Published on April 12, 2018
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