NEW DELHI • India will stop importing more than 100 items used by its armed forces in a bid to boost local manufacturing.
The ban will be implemented gradually, starting with products such as sniper rifles and light combat helicopters in December and long-range land-attack cruise missiles in December 2025, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement yesterday.
Similar items worth 3.5 trillion rupees (S$64 billion) were imported between April 2015 and this month and it is estimated that contracts worth almost 4 trillion rupees will be placed with domestic manufacturers within the next seven years, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in a series of tweets.
Faced with disruptions to raw material supplies from China because of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of job losses following a nationwide lockdown and a severe erosion of public revenue as economic growth slumps, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ratcheted up calls to boost local manufacturing and reduce reliance on imports.
Many of the items on the list – which includes communication satellites, conventional submarines and light machine guns – are in the research and development stage, said Dr Laxman Kumar Behera, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
“Importantly, while assuring Indian industry, the government has kept the door open for foreign collaboration for technology transfer,” Dr Behera said.
“The move to stop imports is user driven, therefore there will be accountability.”
India in 2017 joined the United States and China as one of the world’s five biggest military spenders, reflecting geopolitical tensions as well as the country’s reliance on imported weapons and sprawling personnel costs.
Some products may be more expensive when produced locally. For instance, the Su-30 MKI – the mainstay Indian fighter jet – is made in Russia and is cheaper than the ones produced in India.
4 trillion rupees
Estimated worth of contracts to be placed with domestic manufacturers within the next seven years.