Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the top brass of the federal Defence Ministry to reduce dependence on imports, build domestic capabilities for designing, developing, and manufacturing advanced defence products and promote exports.
In a meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the top brass of the Defence and Finance ministries and key officials of the federal government, Modi wanted defence expenditure to be economised and savings channeled for strategic capital acquisition only.
India’s defence budget in 2020-21 (April 2020- March 2021) is 1.44 percent of GDP while it is 10.6 percent of the total budget of the federal government.
Prime Minister Modi discussed the defence procurement process, domestic production of spare parts, transfer of technology, and attracting global equipment makers to set up manufacturing facilities in India and expand the country’s international supply chains.
Modi said India should be a global leader in defence manufacturing and export quality and state-of-the-art equipment, systems, and platforms with the active participation of private sector.
India is the world’s second largest arms importer, with Russia the largest supplier. According to a leading global think tank, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India’s weapons market has declined from 72 percent to 56 in recent times.
The Indian economy has been badly battered by the coronavirus and its growth projection was lowered to 1.9 percent by the International Monetary Fund in April, from a pre-coronavirus projection of 5.8 percent GDP growth.
The COVID-19 caseload in India has spiralled to more than 30,000, with over 1,000 deaths. As of Friday, according to the federal Health and Family Welfare Ministry, the caseload was 35,043, which includes 8,889 cured and discharged patients and 1,147 fatalities.