Jaitley To Meet Industry For Final Consultations On Strategic Partnership Policy For Defence Production

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Anupama Airy

The much awaited strategic partnership policy to encourage production of critical defence equipments and weapon systems in India aimed at reducing the country’s huge dependence on imports is expected to soon see the light of the day.

As the Modi led BJP government completes three years in office on May 26, the highest government office — Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has been keen on an early decision on this policy considering that Defence manufacturing will be the biggest contributor in the PM, Narendra Modi’s `Make in India’ initiative.

Top industry sources told DefenceAviationPost.com that the ministry of defence will be holding the last leg of consultations with the industry on the Strategic Partnership Policy on May 11th. They said the policy was ready and after few meetings, the final details of the policy will be put up for a final clearance from the Cabinet.

“A consultation is proposed to be held with the industry on Strategic Partnership on May 11, 2-17 in Indian Air Force Aakash Mess…the session will be initiated by the defence secretary and Raksha Mantri will join the consultation for interaction with industry representatives,” said a MoD communique to the industry associations.

The move comes close on the heels of the announcement made by the defence minister Arun Jaitley at a recent industry meet that India is in advanced stages of developing a policy to encourage domestic defence manufacturing to reduce dependence of the Indian armed forces imports, currently at a staggering $10 billion per annum.

“India is the world’s largest arms importer, spending some 1.8% of its GDP on defence. It imports about 70% of defence equipment, a proposition the government wants to change,” Mr Jaitley had told a gathering at a recent industry meet.

The strategic partnership model plan of the MoD under former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had envisaged that all major defence programs for the Indian armed forces — be it for the fighter aircrafts, land systems or the submarines, will involve participation of an Indian company along with a foreign vendor or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)–ready to transfer technology and meets the laid out parameters of the government of manufacturing defence systems in India.

Delays in the finalisation of the SP policy, that will unlock billion dollars worth of defence projects for the private sector, are being attributed to objections from a section of the industry on the selection process and work criteria as envisaged in the policy draft finalised under Parrikar.

The policy will pave the way for India becoming a manufacturing economy instead of being a mere buyer of defence equipments. The icing on the cake will be the thousands of local jobs that will be created to support these major defence programs under the policy.

Major Indian defence companies in the fray for these projects includes Larsen and Toubro, Tata’s, Adani’s, Reliance Defence, Bharat Forge Mahindra and Mahindra besides few others. Foreign vendors includes leading defence companies from the US, UK, Russia, Israel, France besides others.

Sources said that after assuming charge of the defence ministry on March 13, defence minister Arun Jaitley had asked his lieutenants to “ensure” that the new look SP policy document should be one that encourages “competition and is in line with government’s Make in India initiative of turning the nation into a global manufacturing hub for defence production.”

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