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Experts outline Budget wishlist to propel India’s defence manufacturing and export targets

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NEW DELHI : The Ministry of Defence in India has set an ambitious target to achieve a turnover of ₹1.75 lakh crore in aerospace and defence manufacturing by 2025. Alongside this, the goal of reaching ₹50,000 crore in exports by 2029-2030 underscores the government’s commitment to positioning India as a leading global defence manufacturing hub.

Rajinder Bhatia, President of the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), emphasised the need to operationalise existing policies to meet these targets. He highlighted that private industry, contributing approximately 65% of current defence exports, is pivotal to this growth.

Bhatia stressed the necessity of establishing a framework for government-to-government sales, a dedicated defence exports desk within the Exim Bank, and lines of credit to boost exports.

On the production front, Bhatia called for the acceleration of strategic partnerships and the launch of significant programs such as the P-75(I) submarine project. He believes that these initiatives are crucial for bolstering India’s defence manufacturing capabilities.

As per data from all Defence Public Sector undertakings (DPSUs), other PSUs manufacturing defence items and private companies, the country’s annual defence production value rose to ₹1,26,887 crore.

This translated to a growth of 16.7% over the defence production of the previous financial year and an increase of 60% since 2019-20.

Neeraj Gupta, Managing Director of MKU Group, acknowledged the progress made over the past six years, with India achieving an export target of around ₹21,000 crore, reflecting a 32% year-on-year growth.

Gupta attributed this success to government policies, reforms, and streamlined export licensing procedures. He praised initiatives like IDEX for promoting the defence R&D ecosystem, which has significantly boosted exports.

Gupta suggested that India could further enhance its defence exports by leveraging defence diplomacy and engaging in government-to-government (G2G) and government-to-business (G2B) interactions with friendly nations. He also highlighted the potential of defence lines of credit to reach non-traditional markets and enhance geopolitical ties.

Investment in R&D and collaboration with academia were identified as critical factors for achieving the export targets. Gupta advocated for offering customised solutions tailored to international clients’ local needs and adopting international quality standards to enhance India’s defence exports.

Vrinda Kapoor, CEO of 3rdiTech, expressed optimism about the national deep tech research fund, which aims to provide substantial financial support for long-term bets in the sector. She emphasised the need for innovative disbursement, accessibility, and repayment mechanisms to ensure the scheme’s success.

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