India reportedly has signed very recently an $5 billion deal to purchase the S-400 air defence system from Russia. A Russian news agency TASS has confirmed that the deal was signed. India is one of the biggest importers of defence items of the world. Huge imports involve outflow of foreign currency. Hence the government has decided to make a significant portion of our defence products in India. But it is not possible to produce all the sophisticated, high-tech defence products at home. Therefore India is inviting reputable companies to come to India and make defence products in joint ventures. It is actually a part of the NDA government’s Make in India programme. If it is successful, the cost of production will be lower and there will be a scope to create employment generation in the country. In that case the producers will get a ready market in India and as in India labour is compatably cheap, the products will be produced at a competitive rate. So these units can export their products from India to different countries.
On Defence Policy 2018
From the 1960s self reliance in defence production has been a goal in India. India’s defence production amounted to Rs 55,894 in 2016-17. There is a considerable defence production base in India. There are defence PSUs like HAL in aero MDL, GRSE, GSL, and HSL in naval, BDL, BEML, MIDHANI and OFBs in land systems and BEL in electronics. These have gradually emerged as noted defence production centres of India. In about all sectors there have been achievements. In spite of that India is yet to be a significant producer of sophisticated and high-tech defence products.
For a vibrant defence industry, as the Defence Policy suggests, India needs strategic independence, sovereign capability in selected items, cost effective equipment and collateral benefits. But the most important thing for a country to achieve vibrant defence production is its ability for R&D and innovation. It is known that a well developed Artificial Intelligence and Robotics technology is the most important determinant of a vibrant defence producing centre.