In a significant announcement, Defence Minister A K Antony has indicated that the Indian Navy will no longer rely on imports when it comes to warships as all future procurements will be made in India. The minister also announced that private shipbuilders in the country will be given a level playing field and will have to compete with public sector shipyards for defence contracts.
Antony said that in January, the Defence Ministry will come up with a new procurement policy that will contain ‘drastic steps’ to speed up the goal of decreasing dependence of imports for defence platforms. Antony said that at the moment, almost 70 per cent of defence equipment is imported.
Conceding that the public sector undertakings alone will not be able to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces, Antony said that the ministry is formulating a new policy to give the private sector more opportunities. Antony hinted that the Navy would be the first force to get rid of dependence on foreign suppliers for major platforms.
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’, so they will have to compete,” Antony said on Wednesday.
He added that even beyond the Navy, the ‘Buy Indian and Make Indian’ category where equipment to be procured has to be made in India, is going to be the “major component of our procurement policy”. “That will help us to have a strong defence industrial base in India.”
It may be noted that the Navy has already taken a giant leap over the other services when it comes to indegenisation of defence equipment. Most of the next-generation warships on order are to be made in India while two aircraft carriers are being constructed and a nuclear submarine line is already operational.