India’s first ever (and long delayed) Defence Production Policy is to be unveiled and come into use in January 2011, alongside “major changes” to a revamped Defence Procurement Policy (DPP), Indian defence minister AK Antony let out today.
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India currently has a vast state-owned defence production base, but continues to depend incongruously on imports for much of its weapons and military hardware needs. A skeptical view would be that a new policy for defence production won’t change what is a highly controlled sector. Another view would be what the hell have we been doing without a defence production policy so far?
“Our aim is to have a strong defence industrial base in India, because a country like India cannot indefinitely depend on foreign suppliers for majority of our equipments. At the moment 65–70 percent of equipment is imported; we have to reverse this trend,” the minister said.
The minister indicated that state-owned companies (like HAL, BEL, BEML etc) alone could not meet the requirements of the armed forces — the new policy would facilitate the participation of the private sector in more substantive and less regimented way. “Both public sector shipyards will have to compete with the Indian private shipyards to get projects for the Indian Navy. So all the Indian Navy’s procurements in future will be from Buy Indian, Make Indian,” he said.
Antony paused in his speech at an awards function for excellence this morning to wag his finger at PSU bosses present, informing them that they needed to pull up their socks and brace for heavy competition from the private sector from next year.
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