NEW DELHI: Modernisation of Armed Forces and total self-reliance in the defence sector were subjects close to India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen Bipin Rawat's heart, said Defence Minister Rajanth Singh, pointing out "it is everyone's responsibility now to work tirelessly to achieve the objective even sooner".
In his address on Monday while virtually inaugurating nation-wide events of the Department of Defence Production (DDP), Singh also paid rich tributes to CDS Gen Rawat and other Armed Forces personnel who lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu on December 8, and extended his condolences to the family members.
Sharing his insights on what freedom means to a nation, Singh said, freedom is not just a thing to be attained or earned, it is also a thing to maintain, for which one has to strive continuously.
"Freedom is not a goal, but a path. To a sovereign nation, freedom means the ability and capacity to take any decision related to defence and socio-economic development. In any situation, we can take a decision only when we are completely self-reliant," he stressed.
Singh was of the view that while India attained freedom in the fields such as agriculture, education and health post-Independence, not much attention was paid towards the defence sector.
He said, before the government came to power in 2014, the defence sector lagged behind due to lack of investment, innovation and research and development. This led to dependency on imports to meet the defence requirements of the country and affected the strategic autonomy, he added.
Singh pointed out that the current government understood the importance of self-reliance in defence and has been making constant efforts to achieve 'Aatmanirbharta' in the sector.
"The defence sector has entered into a new era due to the policies, vision and mindset of this government," he added.
Saying that this government does not shy away from taking bold decisions in the interest of the nation, Singh listed out a number of policy reforms aimed at promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing.
He made special mention of the corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), saying that the move will make OFB more effective and efficient and unleash its true potential.
Other reforms mentioned by the Singh include setting up of Defence Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; increasing the FDI limit to 74 per cent through automatic route, and 100 per cent through Government route under certain circumstances; unveiling of draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020; notifying two positive indigenisation lists of over 200 items; earmarking of about 64 per cent of its modernisation funds under the capital acquisition budget for 2021-22 for procurement from domestic industries and launch of Innovations For Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative.
Singh appreciated the fact that the private sector has contributed to about 90 per cent of country's defence exports. He exuded confidence this active and continued partnership between the government and the private sector will help to soon achieve 'Make in India, Make for the World' as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He hoped that the week-long events will generate awareness among people about the progress made in the defence sector, instil national spirit and further strengthen their trust in the country's defence preparedness.
Present on the occasion, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said, the week-long events will make people aware of the achievements, resolve and vision of DDP.
He reiterated the resolve to continue to move forward without any comprise to achieve 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'. As a run up to the DefExpo-2022 and with an aim to reach out to a larger audience in India and abroad, a Virtual Exhibition named 'Path to Pride' was launched to showcase the journey of 75 years for 'Aatmanirbhar' defence manufacturing through 75 stories of growth and evolution across the domains of land, naval, air, missile and electronic systems. This virtual interactive platform offers a repository of India's defence capabilities, indigenisation efforts, future readiness and policy reforms, augmenting India's emergence as the global defence manufacturing hub. (IANS)