Lucknow: Speaking at a defence dialogue on ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ organised by STRIVE think-tank, a veterans’ initiative in Lucknow on June 17, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that BRAHMOS missiles, drones, electronic warfare systems and aircraft will be manufactured and assembled in the Uttar Pradesh defence corridor.
Addressing the gathering at the event, the defence minister said, “The important thing is that there will not be only the manufacturing of nuts and bolts or spare parts in the UP defence corridor. Drones/UAVs, Electronic warfare, Aircraft and BRAHMOS missiles will be manufactured and assembled in this corridor.”
Self-reliance is not an option but a necessity, as India is facing a double threat on its borders, along with new dimensions of warfare that are emerging in today’s fast-changing world, the defence minister further said. He also informed that so far, a total investment of about Rs 2,500 crore has been made in Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor (UPDIC) by various entities.
Terming a strong and self-reliant military as the backbone of a sovereign nation, Singh said besides protecting the borders, the army safeguards the country’s civilisation and culture.
“The Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is ensuring that the Armed Forces are not dependent on foreign weapons and equipment,” he asserted and emphasised that the real strength lies in being ‘Aatmanirbhar‘, especially when an emergency situation arises.
Highlighting the paradigm shift brought about by technology in the nature of warfare, the defence minister focused on the need to develop indigenous state-of-the-art weapons and platforms that equip and prepare the Armed Forces to tackle new and emerging challenges.
“Most of the weapons today are electronic-based systems, which can reveal sensitive information to the adversaries. As imported equipment has certain limitations, we need to go beyond the horizon and achieve self-reliance in niche technologies. The latest weapons/equipment are equally important as the bravery of our soldiers. If India wishes to become a military power at the global level, there is no other option than being self-reliant in defence manufacturing,” Rajnath Singh said.
Enumerating the steps taken by the Government to create a robust defence ecosystem, which not only caters to domestic requirements but also fulfils the security needs of friendly countries, the defence minister said that these include setting up of Defence Industrial Corridors (DIC) in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; earmarking of a record 75 per cent of the defence capital procurement budget (approx. Rs one lakh crore) for the domestic industry in Financial Year 2023-24; 25 per cent R&D budget for private industry and Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative & Technology Development Fund to promote start-ups.
The defence minister highlighted that the Government’s efforts in the last few years have resulted in over Rs one lakh crore in defence production and nearly Rs 16,000 crore in exports in Financial Year 2022-23. He exuded confidence that the defence exports will soon cross Rs 20,000 crore mark.
“We are moving ahead at an unprecedented pace to achieve the Prime Minister’s vision of making India a developed nation by 2047. The aim is to build an economically powerful and completely self-reliant India, which is also a net defence exporter,” he added.
Chief Nodal Officer for UP DIC Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria (Retd), officers of the Armed Forces & DRDO and representatives of the industry and academia were also present on the occasion.