Narendra Modi hits out at Congress over defence paralysis

DefExpo to kick off in Chennai tomorrow bonding US, allies in Indo-Pacific region

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in a tweet, said For the first time, India will be showcasing its defence export potential at @DefExpoIndia.

Attacking the previous Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the defence preparedness of the country was hampered by UPA's policy paralysis, and said that his government has taken bold actions to meet the immediate critical requirements including finalising the procurement of bulletproof jackets and initiating a new process to procure 110 fighter aircraft.

Inaugurating Defexpo 2018 near Mahabalipuram on East Coast Road, Modi said that India had seen how the "laziness, incompetence or perhaps some hidden motives" can cause damage to the nation. "Dream! Dream! Dreams transform into thoughts, and thoughts result in action" - the Prime Minister said his dream was to develop the ecosystem to foster an environment of new and creative entrepreneurship in the defence manufacturing sector.

While delivering speech in front of foreign delegates and representatives of different companies, Modi told that Government of India is concern about development of Indigenisation of defence products and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country will play a major role in this regard. "Never again", he said.

The Air Force has also launched a campaign for buying 114 fighter aircraft in India under which global bidders would be offering their planes for production in India. "For this we are ready to take all necessary measures to equip our armed forces, including through the establishment of a strategically independent defence industrial complex".

The Prime Minister's comments can be seen in the light of the relations between India and China, who have 3,488 km of un-demarcated boundary along the Himalayan ridgeline and the repeated attempts by Pakistan to foment trouble in Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi said the Defence Procurement Procedure has been revised with many specific provisions for stimulating growth of the domestic defence industry. "In less than four years, we have issued 794 more export permissions, for a total value of over $1.3 billion", Modi said. "The corridors will become engines of economic development and growth of defense industrial base", he said.

India is expected to spend close to United States dollars 300 billion in the next five years in procuring defence equipment and nearly all major global defence firms are eyeing a slice of it.

Under the scheme, the government would set up defence innovation hubs throughout the country to provide necessary incubation and infrastructure support to the start-ups in defence sector.

The collective presence of major USA manufacturers, technology innovators, supply-chain leaders and even firearms producers exhibiting at the show would be a strong indication of how important India was to the US.

"In May 2014, the total number of defence export permissions granted stood at 118, for a total value of $577 million".

He said initial validity of industrial licences has been increased and offset guidelines made flexible.

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