The corridors add momentum to growth of a self-reliant defence sector, says Rajnath Singh during ‘Advantage Uttar Pradesh: Defence Corridor’ session organised as part of UP Global Investors’ Summit in Lucknow
“UPDIC runway for the state’s defence industry”
Indian defence sector, with 13,000 crore exports last year, has emerged as an area of immense possibilities: Defence Minister
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has called for more investment in Uttar Pradesh & Tamil Nadu Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs) to achieve 'Make in India, Make for the World' as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for shared global prosperity. The Defence Minister was addressing a parallel sectoral session ‘Advantage Uttar Pradesh: Defence Corridor’, organised as part of Uttar Pradesh Global Investors’ Summit inaugurated by the Prime Minister in Lucknow on February 10, 2023. He urged the defence sector companies to increase their investment and emphasis more on R&D to take the defence industry to newer heights and ensure overall growth of the country.
The Defence Minister described fool-proof security as the strongest pillar of a prosperous nation, asserting that the Government is leaving no stone unturned to build a self-reliant defence industry which provides state-of-the-art weapons & technologies to the Armed Forces, crucial to make the nation ‘Aatmanirbhar’. He pointed out that after centuries of foreign rule and imports dependency for decades post-independence, the country is witnessing the rise of a self-reliant defence sector due to the collaborative efforts of the Government and the industry, especially the private sector in the last few years.
“In the last 7-8 years, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, India has risen once again to regain its old glory while creating a new identity for itself. After coming to power, we had two options with respect to the defence sector. First was to blame the previous governments for the circumstances and the second was to create a new path that leads to unprecedented growth. We chose the second option and moved ahead with dedication & enthusiasm. Now, with each passing day, we are getting closer and closer to our goal of ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence. Today, along with all other sectors, defence is moving ahead at a fast pace to achieve self-reliance while contributing to the economic progress of the country. Major steps, including setting up of two DICs are adding to that momentum,” he said.
The Defence Minister added that the DICs have been conceptualised to help in providing basic facilities to the defence industry, exuding confidence that they will soon become the backbone of the sector. On the UPDIC, he mentioned that the corridor nodes (Agra, Aligarh, Chitrakoot, Jhansi, Kanpur and Lucknow) are historically-important industrial areas, connected not only with the state but the entire country. This corridor has the potential to provide to the defence industry an ecosystem which is crucial for any organisation involved in R&D and production.
“There are corridors of power in the country which are necessary for running the governance of the country. When these corridors start interfering in the work of the industries, red-tapism increases and the businesses are adversely affected. Keeping this in mind, two dedicated corridors (UP & Tamil Nadu) were created for industrialists, free from unnecessary interference of the government,” the Defence Minister said.
Rajnath Singh was of the view that Uttar Pradesh today possesses all essentials- from law & order, environment for investors, infrastructure development to quality education, health and nutrition - required to set up an industry in the state. He made special mention of the industry-friendly ‘Aerospace & Defence Policy’ which was issued by the state government to promote defence production. He termed it as another important step that provides a favorable environment for the private sector to move forward.
The Defence Minister highlighted that following the establishment of the UPDIC, MoUs have been signed with more than 100 investors within a short span of time. So far, more than 550 hectares of land has been allotted to over 30 organisations and an investment of about 2,500 crore has been made. These statistics will increase, he said, hoping that the UPDIC will prove to be a runway for the state’s defence industry to touch greater heights. Rajnath Singh added that Uttar Pradesh will soon propel the country’s economy and become its growth engine.
Apart from elaborating on the opportunities in Uttar Pradesh, the Defence Minister listed out many other steps taken by the Central government to strengthen the defence industry. These include measures to encourage private sector participation; earmarking of a certain part of the capital expenditure of defence for domestic procurement; allocation of a huge part of the defence budget to purchase domestic items; notifications of positive indigenisation lists; enhancement of FDI limit and reforms in the banking sector.
Rajnath Singh also threw light on the opening up of avenues for the private sector to help the country stay abreast with the latest technological advancements amid the constantly-evolving global security scenario. These include Transfer of Technology through DRDO at zero fee; access to government labs; dedicating a quarter of the defence R&D budget to industry-led R&D; introduction of the Strategic Partnership model, which provides an opportunity to Indian private entities to tie-up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers and launch of the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative & Technology Development Fund to promote start-ups and innovators.
The Defence Minister added that the efforts taken by the Government are bearing fruit as India is manufacturing defence equipment to fulfill its own security needs, but is also catering to the requirements of friendly countries under ‘Make in India, Make for the World’. He added that defence exports have increased manifold to over 13,000 crore last year, as compared to less than 1,000 crore in 2014. The Indian defence sector has emerged as an area with immense possibilities, he said.
Earlier, Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan also addressed the gathering. He stated that the Armed Forces are seeking to meet future challenges through transformation and modernisation. “Transformation is being attempted through jointness and integration which will lead to joint operational structures and creation of synergy between the three services. Modernisation is being attempted through innovation and indigenisation, which need a collaborative approach amongst all stakeholders,” he said.
The Chief of Defence Staff listed out various initiatives of the central government that will help build a defence ecosystem in the country and usher in a positive transformation. He invited foreign OEMs to become part of India’s growth story by partnering with Indian businesses. He asserted that the UP DIC will define the future of aerospace and defence manufacturing in India.
Industry leaders and other stakeholders actively participated in the seminar and presented their suggestions to promote private participation in Defence Industry and give a boost to Indian Defence Manufacturing. Chief Nodal Officer of UPDIC Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria (Retd), CEO UPEIDA Arvind Kumar and other dignitaries and officials from industry, central and state governments were also present.
The Uttar Pradesh Global Investors Summit is the flagship investment summit of the state government which brings together policymakers, industry leaders, academia, think tanks and leaders from across the world to collectively explore business opportunities and forge partnerships.