Defence Budget Boost Amid Border Tensions to Make in India, Rajnath Singh Lists Govt Priorities at Firstpost Summit

Last Updated: February 25, 2024, 15:53 IST

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaking at the Firstpost Defence Summit 2024 (Image/X)

Rajnath Singh said that this is the first government which dared to impose a ban on imports of weapons to become self-reliant

Considering the situation at the borders, India has increased the defence budget outlay and is also focusing on Make in India products up to a level where India can export defence equipment worth Rs 50,000 crore annually, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said at the Firstpost Defence Summit 2024.

“If you paid attention to this year’s budget, you will find that, once again, the Ministry of Defence has received the highest allocation. The announcement to increase the defence budget to Rs 6.21 lakh crore has been made, which is more than 13% of the total budget. The government now neither has a shortage of funds nor lack of intention. Along with deepening challenges on the borders and changing dynamics of the geo-political landscape, the defence budget has been increased. This step reflects the long-term vision of the Indian government,” Singh said at the summit.

The minister said that the goal of the government is to manufacture high-end aero engines and gas turbines. “Our goal is to manufacture high-end systems such as aero-engines and gas turbines in India within the next five years. Now, this goal is not an ordinary one. And why should it be? When the capability and dedication of the youth of this country are extraordinary, when the intention of the government of this country is crystal clear, then there is no question of setting ordinary goals. In the coming five years, we will embark on an exciting journey towards extraordinary goals,” the minister said.

While talking about indigenous weapons, Singh said, “If you look at the defence manufacturing sector, when we prepared the positive indigenous list of weapons and moved forward with the aim that products made in India would be in the hands of Indian soldiers, some people raised the question that the products made here would not be world-class. Although I completely disagree with their views, I would like to say to them that if we don’t give our manufacturers a chance, how will they improve the quality of their products? Initially, we faced some difficulties, short-term pain occurred, but instead of focusing on this short-term pain, we paid attention to the long-term gain for the country’s military strength and defence sector’s self-reliance.”

He said that the PM Narendra Modi-led government doesn’t focus on short-term pain or gain, but the focus remains long-term gain. “When you carefully evaluate the changes in the defence sector under the leadership of the Prime Minister, considering the long-term gain, you will also see many remarkable things. You will see how radically we have changed India’s defence sector in the past few years. Inspired by the Prime Minister’s vision, we have worked towards making India self-reliant in the defence industrial sector,” he said.

He said that this is the first government which dared to impose a ban on imports of weapons to become self-reliant. “We are the first government to impose a ban on the import of weapons. Just imagine how painful it is in the short term for any nation to impose a ban on the import of some weapons to advance towards self-reliance. It was difficult for us in the short term, but this challenge is gradually turning into an opportunity, and India’s sun is rising on the global defence industrial stage. India’s defence industrial sector has now taken significant steps towards self-reliance at a rapid pace. The weapons coming into the hands of our soldiers are being made on our country’s soil and by the hands of our citizens,” he said.

“Our armed forces have issued five positive indigenisation lists, identifying 509 systems and equipment, the manufacturing of which will now be on Indian soil. Additionally, we have also issued four positive indigenisation lists for Defense Public Sector Undertakings, identifying 4,666 systems and line replacement units, the production of which will be in our country and by our citizens,” he said.

“Inspired by the Prime Minister, our government has stepped out of this comfort zone and made plans to elevate India to the list of exporters in the defense industrial sector. And today, you can see that we have succeeded in our efforts, which can be understood from this figure: the annual export of defence equipment, which did not even reach a total of a Rs 1,000 crore 7-8 years ago, has now reached approximately Rs 16,000 crore. We were once the largest arms importer in the world, but today we are in the list of top 25 arms exporters,” Singh said.

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