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Colin Shah
Colin Shah
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Alok Kirloskar
Alok Kirloskar
Pragati Khare
Pragati Khare
Devang Mody
Devang Mody
Vinay Kalantri
Vinay Kalantri
Varun Aggarwal
Varun Aggarwal
Erich Nesselhauf
Erich Nesselhauf
Ghanshyam Lal Vyas
Ghanshyam Lal Vyas
Mr Siddhartha Sacheti
Mr Siddhartha Sacheti
Satish Kannan
Satish Kannan

Aatmanirbharta in Defence

Aatmanirbharta in Defence

About Aatmanirbhar India
The Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, or Self-reliant India campaign, is a movement which was launched by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, in May 2020. Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan aims to make the citizens of India self-reliant in all aspects. The Prime Minister of India outlined five major pillars of self-reliant India: economy, infrastructure, system, vibrant demography and demand. Furthermore, the government of India declared enablers and government reforms in various sectors. In May 2020, the Prime Minister of India announced a package of Rs. 2,000,000 crore (US$ 262 billion), equivalent to 10% of India’s GDP, for providing policy and financial support to the MSMEs and cottage industry of India. Under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, the government plans to implement various reforms to lure investors, improve ease of doing business and reinforce the Make in India initiative. The key features of Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission’s five pillars are:

  • Economy: Expand the country’s economy to US$ 5 trillion by 2025
  • Infrastructure: Invest more than Rs. 10,000,000 crore (US$ 1.3 trillion) in infrastructure expansion over the next five years for achieving the US$ 5 trillion economy goal
  • Systems: Implement systems based on 21st century technologies
  • Vibrant Demography: Enhance India’s competitive edge for self-reliance over the next five years
  • Demand: Utilise full resources and capacity

The Union Budget 2022–23 has given momentum to Aatmanirbharta in defence. The budget has depicted India’s true efforts to achieve self-reliance in the defence sector. Around 70% of the defence budget has been reserved for the domestic defence industry. Contracts worth Rs. 54,000 crore (US$ 7.1 billion) have been signed for domestic procurement. Furthermore, the country’s arms exports stood at Rs. 11,607 crore (US$ 1.5 billion) during FY 2021–22, 6x increase compared to 2014. This surge was attributed to several reforms proposed by the government to scale up defence exports and enhance the ease of doing business. The government aims to achieve an export target of Rs. 36,500 crore (US$ 4.8 billion) by 2025.

Value of Defence Exports


Source: The Mint

Aatmanirbharta in Defence  
India is one of the largest arms importers in the world, accounting for 11% of the total arms sales globally. Enhancing the defence technology, achieving customisation and uniqueness is important for India to develop a surprise element over its nemesis. For encouraging industries and start-ups, The Defence Minister of India, Mr Rajnath Singh, stated that research and development is crucial to achieving self-reliance in the defence sector. Researchers claim that self-reliance in the defence sector is the most important constituent of Aatmanirbharta. Domestic weapon production has economic, technological and philosophical linkages. To become a superpower in the world, Indian must achieve self-reliance in the production of defence equipment; Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is expected to help India achieve self-reliance in defence manufacturing.

Benefits of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to the Defence Sector

  • Self-reliance in the defence industry will enhance India’s strategic independence and promote development in the country’s domestic defence and aerospace industry.
  • Private sector will benefit from the transformation due to export authorisation and the embargo imposed by the government on import of various products.
  • India will be able to reduce its reliance on imports by increasing domestic production.
  • India will be able to boost exports and achieve its 2025 export target of Rs. 36,500 crore (US$ 4.8 billion).

India’s Roadmap to Self-reliance in Defence
The Make in India movement in the defence sector will be a key towards Aatmanirbharta in Defence. India currently imports most of defence products it uses. Private sector participation in defence will encourage foreign producers to form strategic partnerships with various Indian businesses. This strategic collaboration will enhance the producers’ exposure to the unexplored defence sector of India and generate numerous opportunities for the Indian companies by strengthening production and upgrading equipment. Accommodative government rules will help in achieving self-reliance, besides promoting indigenisation and technology modernisation. The guidelines proposed by the government of India will also help attain economies of scale and improve export capabilities of the country. India has wide-ranging transformation plans which are expected to expand its focus on security and help it become a defence sourcing hub. India’s ability to develop and sell indigenous missiles, radar systems, and other defence equipment has enabled it to become a modern defence partner to many Asian countries.

The Make in India movement has been effective in supplying various equipment which are being extensively used by the armed forces of India. From 2018 to 2021, the government of India granted Acceptance of Necessity to over 150 proposals worth Rs. 2,47,515 crore (US$ 32.4 billion) under various categories of capital procurement, which is expected to enhance local manufacturing as per The Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP- 2020). Additionally, from 2018 to January 2022, of the  total 191 capital acquisitions made, almost 121 were inked with Indian suppliers for procuring defence equipment for the armed forces. The Make in India movement will help enhance clarity, trust, expertise, value, and consistency by opening doors to innovation, besides creating jobs and opportunities to integrate the right skills.

Government Initiatives
Favourable government policies will have a huge impact on Aatmanirbharta. The government aims to make India a global defence manufacturing hub. The Defence Minister announced the following steps to bolster the industry and start-ups:

  • The government would approve at least five projects under Make-I during 2022-23 for boosting industry-backed R&D efforts.
  • A mechanism under DG-Acquisition has been implemented to monitor the budget reserved, particularly for start-ups and private companies, to ensure it is entirely utilised.
  • The government plans to modernise the QA procedure to ensure it is non-intrusive.
  • iDEX-Prime aims to encourage projects that may necessitate support beyond Rs. 1.5 crore (US$ 0.2 million), up to Rs. 10 crore (US$ 1.3 million), to help developing start-ups in the defence sector.
  • Around 68% of the capital procurement budget would be earmarked for the domestic industry.
  • The industrial licensing process would be streamlined with longer authentication period.
  • An indigenisation portal called SRIJAN would be launched to support indigenisation by Indian entities, including MSMEs.
  • Two industrial defence corridors would be launched, one each in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Road Ahead
A robust government policy will help in achieving the objectives of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. The Union Budget 2022–23 serves as a blueprint for enhancing and developing a vibrant ecosystem through research and development, indigenous manufacturing, modern technology, etc. Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan will create several opportunities for start-ups and private sector companies to showcase their domestic capabilities. The government’s role as a mediator will help improve the processes and boost the sector. However, it is crucial that the industry works in tandem with the government to achieve self-reliance and the US$ 5 trillion economy target. India is significantly realising the need for self-reliance. The country is drastically reducing its import needs and promoting domestic defence capabilities.

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