India is working hard to enhance its capabilities and capacities in the defence-manufacturing sector at a fast pace, PM Modi said on Monday, noting there were hundreds of ordnance factories before independence with large-scale weapons export from the country in both world wars but this system was not strengthened.
Addressing a webinar on the effective implementation of the Union Budget’s provisions in the defence sector, the PM listed a series of measures taken by his government to boost self-reliance in the defence sector and rued the fact the country is one of the biggest defence importers in the world.
“An India that has the capacity to reach Mars could have made modern weapons also, but it became an easy way to import weapons from abroad,” he said.
But now, the country is working hard to change the situation and also to enhance its capacities and capabilities at a fast pace, the prime minister asserted.
“Before independence, we used to have hundreds of ordnance factories. In both the world wars, weapons at large scale were exported from India. But for various reasons, this system was not strengthened as much as it should have been after independence,” he said.
“The condition is such even for small arms, we have to look at other nations. India is amongst the biggest defence importers and this is not a matter of pride," Modi stressed.
On the defence budget, the PM said a part has been reserved for domestic procurement even in the capital budget of defence.
A total amount of Rs4.78 lakh crore has been earmarked for the defence ministry in the 2021-22 budget, with a nearly-19% increase in capital outlay, he said.
Modi urged the private sector to come forward and take up both designing and manufacturing of defence equipment.
He said it is not the people of India do not have the talent or capability and pointed out the country did not make ventilators before the coronavirus pandemic, but now manufactures thousands of those.
Modi cited the example of the indigenously-developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas. He said his government has relied on the capabilities of the country's engineers and scientists on developing Tejas and today, it is flying gracefully in the skies.
A few weeks ago, an order worth Rs48,000 crore was placed for Tejas, he noted.