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Indigenisation of Defence Production- An essence to become self reliantIndia being the world’s second largest importer of defense products after saudi arabia accounts for around 9% of the global trade. This is decreased trend in the imports as compared to the 11% of Global trade previous year which shows a positive signal towards the goal of indigenisation of defence products. A significant beginning in defence indigenisation was made in 1983,when the government sanctioned the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) to develop five missile systems.Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and private organisations are playing a critical role in indigenisation of defence industries.The indigenous efforts were not adequate to meet the requirements of the armed forces, this resulted in the shift of focus towards co-development and co-production in partnership with foreign companies.A beginning was made in 1998, when India and Russia signed an inter-governmental agreement to jointly produce Brahmos supersonic cruise missile.Apart from Russia, India has also partnered with other countries such as Israel and France for a number of projects and covered a long pathway to start becoming self reliant in defence production.The tejas- combat airplane , Naag- anti tank missile and Project 75 are few of those achieved goals. With the announcement of 74% FDI through automatic route in defence production, India broadened its door to manufacture in india through local industries.The Government since times, were focused to shorten the defence imports because: 

  1. Primarily, Defence imports from other major world powers could be proved as sacrificing the nation’s security. 
  2. It’s been always seen delays in delivery resulting in import of outdatedly technologies as could be seen in the long halted rafale deal from France.
  3. The dependence on other major powers left us without having any exclusive armour in our artillery.
  4. With increased indigenisation of the defence products, india could see towards world as a self reliant and a contributor to the defence exports worldwide.
  5. It could save a huge amount spent on imports which can be used for R&D as per our needs and geography of the terrains in bordered areas.
  6. It will also boost the confidence of our border saviours while using indigenous technology and products.
  7. With indigenisation, our defence manufacturing industries could survive better which were only assisting the foreign companies until now.

With all these developments , India should be ready to face some expected challenges as we cannot compromise the defence needs while supporting indigenisation. Therefore, some key points needs to be keep in mind while framing the further policies.

  1. Local defence manufacturers needs to focus on quality rather than quantity as we cannot let our defence forces in vulnerable situation by commissioning low quality products compared to their foreign imports.
  2. Government should focus on low bidding policy in initial phase as we cannot turn out to buy a expensive local product compared to their cheap counterpart.
  3. Our defence forces could issue a list of their requirements for the year in advance which could help the local manufacturers to keep their investment cut short to those products.
  4. The local industries which are working as sub contractors for foreign companies should be motivated to manufacture.
  5. In case of need of importing defence products from foreign countries we should atleast be able to manufacture their spare parts & their localised servicing.
  6. We should support the local defence manufacturers and give them a free hand on R&D and follow a principle of liberal approach while examining their products.
  7. As DRDO, the only approver of the defence products has conflict of interest by itself being a local manufacturer of defence products.

Although indigenisation of our defence industry and reduction in imports make us self reliant but it will also come with some challenges which we really need to be concern upon. Therefore, cutting short our imports and growing our local defence manufacturing industries simultaneously is the only way around to come out as a country having self reliant defence sector.


Colonel M.M Nehru

Col. MM Nehru, Director at NFA, is a Personality Developer. He is an experienced trainer and has orchestrated numerous sessions around leadership, time management and personal effectiveness for corporate clientele. He holds a master’s degree (PGDM) in Defence Studies and Business Administration and was an Arts Graduate. If you want to know more about Colonel Nehru Click Here

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