India’s Magic Wand ‘Make in India’ – Years Away From Realisation?

 For successive governments taking the helm of affairs at New Delhi, one key mission is to make India self reliant in defence equipment manufacturing. This mission is key to the country as it races ahead with its mission to modernise its armed forces in an effort to fortify its position as a formidable regional power.

The NDA government, which came to power in 2014, introduced the ‘Make in India’ initiative, which it has labelled as a magic wand to realise the country’s mission of attaining self reliance. Since the launch of the initiative in 2015, the government has lobbied strongly with global manufacturers for making India a global manufacturing hub for cutting edge defence technology.

Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre briefing the parliament, the power seat of India, revealed that the government in last three financial years i.e. 2014-15 to 2016-17, had accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for 145 proposals worth Rs. 3,99,800 Crore approximately, out of which 103 proposals worth Rs. 2,46,400 Crore approximately have been approved under ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM)’, ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ and ‘Make’ categories of capital acquisition.

Speaking about the efforts the government has initiated to add life to the initiative, he said “The Government has recently notified the ‘Strategic Partnership (SP)’ Model which envisages establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with Indian Private entities through a transparent and competitive process, wherein they would tie up with global OEMs to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.” For creating a conducive environment for manufacturers, the government he said, had liberalized the licensing regime and FDI policy by raising the cap on FDI in the defence sector, simplification of export procedure, streamlining of defence offset guidelines.

A batch of Arjun tanks rolling out for induction to the Indian Army; Source – DRDO.

In an effort to boost manufacturing in India, the government has allowed foreign companies to have tie-ups with Indian vendors for indigenous production involving Transfer of technology (ToT) under ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ and ‘Buy & Make’ categories of capital acquisition.

In a press statement the Ministry of Defence has revealed that the government has concluded contracts for procuring 155mm / 52 caliber Mounted Gun system, Extended Range (ER) Rockets for 122mm GRAD Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher, Successor to Air Defence Guns, New Generation Ammunition for 84mm Rocket Launcher and Mine Ploughs Sets under the above stated categories.

The Minister in a written reply said that one of the main objectives of ‘Make in India’ initiative is to build world class manufacturing infrastructure in the country so as to reduce dependence on imports and to reduce the cost in the long run. When questioned about the minimal progress the initiative had made over the three years, the minister said, “This being a long term activity, it is premature to assess its impact on reduction in manufacturing cost at this stage.”

He, however, stated that the government stands committed to catapult the growth of Make in India and thus the made in India dreams of the country.

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