Aatmanirbhar Bharat: PM Modi's Plan For India's Defence Sector

India was ranked seventh in the world in terms of military spending in 2015. It rose to fourth in 2021

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Defence in India is a critical strategic sector, that has witnessed significant development in the last nine years. The budget sanctioned for the Indian military went up to Rs 5.45 lakh crore in the fiscal 2020-21. The country has been striving for the indigenisation of military gear, as the country imports over 70 per cent (by value) of its high-tech defence hardware primarily from Russia, Japan, Israel and the United States.

In 2015, India was ranked seventh in the world in terms of military spending but it has risen to fourth place in 2021. It is now the second largest country after China in terms of number of active military personnel. 

Here are nine notable achievements and advancements during the nine years of Modi government:

  1. Indigenous Weapons Development: India has made remarkable progress in developing indigenous defence technologies and weapons systems. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully developed and tested various advanced missiles, including the Agni series of ballistic missiles, the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile and the Prithvi series of surface-to-surface missiles.

  2. Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System: India has made sizeable strides in the development of its ballistic missile defence capabilities. It has conducted multiple tests of the indigenously developed BMD system, providing the country an enhanced capability to intercept and destroy incoming ballistic missiles.

  3. Tejas Fighter Aircraft: The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, India’s indigenously designed and developed fighter aircraft, achieved initial operational clearance and subsequent full operational clearance in the last nine years. The induction of Tejas into the Indian Air Force (IAF) has strengthened the country’s air defence capabilities.

  4. Make in India Initiative: The government’s “Make in India” initiative has focused on promoting indigenous defence manufacturing and reducing dependence on foreign imports. Several defence deals and collaborations have been initiated to encourage the production of military equipment within the country. This initiative has led to the establishment of defence manufacturing hubs and the involvement of the private sector in defence production. This also helped India boost the export of defence equipment and systems, which increased by 24 per cent in FY23, more than threefold in six years.

  5. Rafale Fighter Jets: In 2020, India received the first batch of Rafale fighter jets from France. The acquisition of Rafale aircraft has significantly bolstered India’s air superiority and added to the operational readiness of the Indian Air Force.

  6. Modernisation of Armed Forces: India has undertaken several modernisation programmes to upgrade its armed forces. This includes the procurement of advanced weapon systems, surveillance equipment, communication systems and the Agnipath scheme. Efforts have been made to enhance the capabilities of the Army, Navy and Air Force by acquiring state-of-the-art technology. 

  7. Defence Diplomacy: India has actively engaged in defence diplomacy to strengthen ties with various countries. Bilateral defence cooperation agreements, joint military exercises and technology transfers have been pursued to promote strategic partnerships and foster defence collaboration.

  8. Space-based Defence: India has also made progress in space-based defence systems. The successful testing of an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile, named “Mission Shakti,” demonstrated India’s capability to neutralise potential threats from space.

  9. Cybersecurity and Information Warfare: Recognising the growing importance of cybersecurity and information warfare, India has been working towards strengthening its capabilities in these areas. Steps have been taken to enhance cybersecurity infrastructure, develop indigenous software and hardware solutions and establish dedicated organisations to address cyber threats.

Defence manufacturing has increased during the last decade and defence exports have increased by 334 per cent in the last five years and India now exports to over 75 countries. 

With government initiatives, the expenditure on defence procurement from foreign sources has decreased from 46 to 36 per cent in the last four years, from 2018-19 to 2021-22.

In 2020-2021, 74 per cent of Army contracts were allocated to Indian vendors, which is commendable. Around 194 defence tech firms in India are developing new software solutions to empower and support the country’s defence activities. The Indian government has set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crores in defence manufacturing by 2025, including Rs 35,000 crore in exports.

Despite a sluggish start, there are examples of exceptional brilliance. The defence sector had a long time to begin toddling, but it is now walking. We shall soon see it make huge strides to glory with the government's support and new initiatives.


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