After the increasing border tensions with China, India had expedited the procurement of defence equipment. Being one of the world’s top importers of arms, India has now decided to stop import of 101 items of military equipment, as per a statement given by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The list of embargoed items includes high technology weapon systems, artillery guns, sonar systems, transport aircrafts, light combat helicopters (LCHs), Singh said.
The move has come on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for self-reliance in defence production. After the clarion call for indigenization for becoming self-reliant as a nation, India plans to bring defence production within the purview of transformational initiatives aimed at boosting domestic production.
Since June, Indian government has ramped up military purchases, buying 33 Russian fighter jets and ordering upgrades of 59 other planes. According to military experts, India urgently needs combat planes, helicopters, and field guns as there has been very minimal investment on defence equipment in the past.
“The embargo on imports is planned to be progressively implemented between 2020 and 2024,” said Rajnath Singh on Twitter. “Our aim is to apprise the Indian defence industry of the anticipated requirements of the Armed Forces so that they are better prepared to realise the goal of indigenisation.”
India has been buying military equipment from Russia, the United States, and Israel. However, Prime Minister has been calling for cutting down on imports and reducing the country’s dependence on them. For a period of more than five years, starting from April 2015 to August 2020, India had been in contract for items worth around 3.5 trillion rupees, that have now been put on hold. According to government estimates, India will now be placing 4 trillion rupees worth of orders with the domestic industry for the next five to seven years.
Rajnath Singh added, “The defence ministry has also split the capital procurement budget for 2020/21 between domestic and foreign procurement routes. A separate budget head has been created with an outlay of nearly 520 billion rupees for domestic capital procurement in the current financial year.”