Make In India : Unlocking India’s potential as a Defence exporter
NEW DELHI : Make In India stands as a prominent initiative under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, symbolizing his government’s commitment to fostering economic growth. As with any significant endeavour, Make In India has encountered ongoing scrutiny from opposing political parties. The manufacturing sector serves as a crucial pillar within any economy, not only generating employment opportunities but also empowering a nation to attain self-sufficiency. Despite India’s notable success in exporting various goods, defence products have not been a prominent focus of these endeavours. This can be sensed from the fact that India’s total defence exports in 2014-15, the first year of the Modi government, were just Rs 1,940.64 crore. The Modi government came out with Make in India scheme in September 2014. The focus then shifted from importing defence products to manufacturing them indigenously. The government also gave prominence to the transfer of technology clause in defence agreements and all these steps worked miracles.
To boost defence exports, the Modi Government has implemented several policy initiatives and introduced reforms over the past nine years. Export procedures have been streamlined and made more industry-friendly, with the introduction of end-to-end online export authorization. This has significantly reduced delays and improved the ease of doing business in this sector. The Government has also issued three Open General Export Licenses (OGEL) for the export of Parts and Components, Transfer of Technology, and Major Platforms and Equipment. The OGEL is a one-time export license that allows the industry to export specified items to specified destinations mentioned in the license, without the need to seek additional export authorization during the validity period of the OGEL.
In April of this year, the Ministry of Defence achieved an unprecedented milestone in defence exports. Thanks to the government’s steadfast policy initiatives and the remarkable efforts of the defence industry, India witnessed a record-breaking defence export figure of around Rs 16,000 crore in the fiscal year 2022-23, surpassing the previous year’s total by nearly Rs 3,000 crore. This remarkable achievement signifies a growth of over tenfold since 2016-17.
India has emerged as a major exporter to more than 85 countries, showcasing its prowess in design and development on the global stage. Currently, around 100 Indian firms are actively involved in exporting defence products. The escalating defence exports serve as compelling evidence of India’s expanding defence manufacturing capabilities. These accomplishments owe their existence to the visionary mindset of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, who placed significant importance on nurturing this thriving industry. In his own words, the achievement in defence exports represents “a clear manifestation of India’s talent and enthusiasm towards Make in India”. PM Modi has further outlined his vision of transforming India into a hub for defence production. Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh has termed record defence exports as a remarkable achievement of the country while crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s leadership for the historic milestone.
In the last nine years, India has undergone a remarkable transformation from being a defence importer to an exporter. Presently, India exports a wide range of major platforms including the Dornier-228, 155 mm Advanced Towed Artillery Guns (ATAGs), Brahmos Missiles, Akash Missile System, Radars, Simulators, Mine Protected Vehicles, Armoured Vehicles, PINAKA Rockets & Launchers, Ammunitions, Thermal Imagers, Body Armours, as well as Systems, Line Replaceable Units, and Parts & components of Avionics and Small Arms. The global demand for Indian-made products such as the LCA-Tejas, Light Combat Helicopters, Aircraft Carrier, and MRO activities is steadily increasing. This showcases the growing recognition and acceptance of India’s capabilities in the global defence market.
To enhance defence manufacturing, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) regularly transfers its newly developed technologies to industries without any charges. Furthermore, industries have been granted free access to DRDO patents. DRDO actively engages with industries through Niche Technology Demonstrations, which not only enables industries to receive valuable user inputs for product improvement but also allows them to conduct self-testing and evaluation of their products under realistic field conditions. Additionally, the test facilities of MoD establishments have been opened up to industries, providing them with opportunities for testing their products. These initiatives foster collaboration between DRDO and industries, facilitating advancements in defence technology and product development.
The government has also established iDEX (innovation for defence excellence) to foster innovation and technology development in Defence by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, Individual Innovators, R&D institutes and Academia. iDEX provides grants/funding and other support to carry out innovations/R&D. It has helped many home-grown startups bag government contracts for manufacturing. An online portal for receiving and processing export authorisation permission has been developed. The applications submitted on this portal are digitally signed and the authorisation is also issued digitally, at a faster pace. Also, to enhance functional autonomy, and efficiency and unleash new growth potential and innovation in Ordnance Factories, the Government has converted 41 Ordnance Factories into seven Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs), 100% Government owned corporate entity (ies). This has further streamlined their functioning.
India’s future trajectory should encompass the manufacturing and export of cutting-edge fighter jets, top-tier missile defence systems, and advanced aircraft carriers. While these goals may require time and effort, they are certainly attainable and within reach for India. With the right focus, dedication, and strategic planning, India has the potential to establish itself as a global player in these domains. This decade belongs not only to India but also to the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who possesses the necessary capabilities to steer the nation towards its future goals in a strategic and organized manner. The English proverb – Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
India stands poised with the determination and potential to lead the way forward, not only for its progress but also to guide the world towards the path of inclusive growth with the motto of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ (Together with everyone, development for all). The world eagerly awaits India’s leadership as it holds the potential to become the next global superpower.