In order to attain its vision as a global leader, India is paving a roadway to becoming self-reliant (Aatmanirbhar) in three areas: development, industrialisation and national security. In the past few decades, India has witnessed growth in all three areas significantly but However, until two years ago, the scope of Aatmanirbhar Bharat was amiss in the Indian defence industry. An import-dependent India was the second-largest arms importer globally in the past decade. In the last five years, though, India's import dependence has declined by 33 per cent. 

Self-reliance in matters of defence and national security needs is critical and defence equipment procurement is a crucial element of this. In an effort to achieve this, defence industrial corridors have been set up in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh that support large scale domestic defence manufacturing and have prompted the emergence of a vibrant and thriving sector. To further promote the manufacturing of high-tech weapons and equipment, the government has also partnered with private sector enterprises through the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) that seek to create an ecosystem for innovation, research and development of new technologies. In addition, SRIJAN, a portal was launched by the government in 2020 to help Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs) collaborate effectively with MSMEs and startups for technology development that substitute imports. 

The Union Budget 2022-23 has once again prioritised the modernisation of India's defence industry, pushing for indigenous weapons design and production. In support, the government has allocated 68 per cent of the total capital procurement in the defence sector for the domestic industry. Twenty-five per cent of the R&D budget for defence has also been earmarked for domestic research. These measures will have the twin benefits of fostering a domestic manufacturing industry that will be more affordable and less heavy on the exchequer. The R&D budget will also create impetus for startups, private businesses and academia to collaborate and develop world-class technology with leading public sector entities.

The overall defence expenditure has been pegged at $ 70 billion, a 4.4 per cent hike from the previous year. This increased expenditure will bring in greater modernisation of India's defence infrastructure and benefit the country's 15 lakh armed forces personnel. Budget 2022-23 indeed encourages the Indian defence industry to design and develop high-tech military equipment and become global leaders in the sector. 

The steps taken by the Indian government with regards to the defence industry in the past years to develop self-reliance have been remarkable and play a vital role in catering to India’s security needs. With the budget allocation for the defence industry, the industry has been provided with a boost to further grow and become self-reliant.  

This blog has been authored by Bhamini Rathore.

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