India should be a manufacturing hub: Defence Minister
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the Defence sector will play a significant role in contributing towards Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative and to the revival of growth in the economy. Addressing the 93rd Annual Convention of Industry body FICCI, through video conferencing in New Delhi, the minister said that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought many new challenges to the country and the government has taken various steps to mitigate its adverse impacts concerning both lives and livelihoods.
Referring to the government’s efforts on the economic front, Rajnath Singh said, after the nationwide lockdown, it was said that it would take more than one or two years for India to reverse the 23.9 percent contraction in GDP, that was witnessed in the first quarter of this financial year. “But India bounced back in no time. In the second quarter, the Indian economy registered a 7.5 per cent contraction in its GDP and the manufacturing sector registered a 0.6 per cent growth in the second quarter as against a 39.3 percent contraction in first-quarter.” Following this development, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) changed its forecast for the Indian economy, projecting 8 per cent contraction in 2020-21 as compared to 9 percent degrowth estimated earlier.
Pointing out the strength of economy the minister said, in April-August 2020, India received the highest ever total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the first five months which was 35.73 billion US Dollar, 13% higher than that in the same period last fiscal. “All of this has been made possible by the help of ‘Inspired India’ which is guided and motivated by the bold and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and timely policy interventions by the government”.
The minister urged the industry to catch the next wave for lowering global manufacturing costs and look into the ways and means to ensure that India becomes a global manufacture hub soon.
He said that the Defence sector will play a significant role in contributing towards Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative and to the revival of growth in the economy. “It’s not a very comforting fact that as one of the largest armed forces of the world, we are so import-dependent in critical areas. While we have made some important strides in defence production, a lot more can and must be done.”
“We have opened doors to the private sector, incentivized domestic production, are creating defence corridors and doing a lot more. We are also willing to engage in meaningful joint ventures and partnerships with other countries.”
Rajnath Singh expressed confidence that the new Defence Acquisition Procedure along with the earlier decision to increase FDI in defence through the automatic route to 74 per cent will provide an impetus to domestic manufacturing and development with the induction of newer technologies and global best practices.
He said a negative import list of 101 items has been released to give a boost to domestic manufacturing. This will especially provide an opportunity to the private sector to enter into the defence manufacturing space. He also expressed confidence that the private sector will remain an active participant in achieving the turnover of Rs 1,75,000 Crores and exports of Rs 35,000 crore.
The 20-lakh crore package announced by the government in May 2020 addressed a number of challenges faced by the country. The focus of this initiative is also aimed at providing a major impetus to the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. “Launch of ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan’ is a "Watershed" moment in the economic history of India”. He said, nearly 81 lakh MSMEs have taken advantage of Prime Minister Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat package.
Referring to the unprovoked aggression on Himalayan frontiers, the minister said, there is big build-up of Armed Forces at the LAC in Ladakh. “However, in these testing times our forces have shown exemplary courage and remarkable fortitude, fought the PLA with utmost bravery and forced them to go back.”