India Inc on Sunday said the Centre's decision to impose restrictions on import of 101 weapons and military platforms, and creation of a separate budget for domestic capital procurement in the current financial year is a ''path-breaking'' reform towards becoming self-reliant and will boost indigenous defence manufacturing.
In a major reform initiative to boost the domestic defence industry, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday announced restrictions on import of 101 weapons and military platforms, including artillery guns, assault rifles and transport aircraft.
"The Ministry of Defence is now ready for a big push to #AatmanirbharBharat initiative," Singh said on Twitter while making the announcement.
He said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has prepared a list of 101 items for which the embargo on imports is planned to be progressively implemented between 2020 and 2024.
"MoD has also bifurcated the capital procurement budget for 2020-21 between domestic and foreign capital procurement routes. A separate budget head has been created with an outlay of nearly Rs 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement in the current financial year," the Defence Minister tweeted.
Welcoming the initiative, CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said the defence minister's announcement of negative import list of defence systems and platforms marks the launch of a new glide path for 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'.
"Announcement of Rs 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement coupled with the list of 101 items for import embargo gives a tremendous boost to Aatmanirbhar Bharat and indigenous defence manufacturing," he added.
Godrej & Boyce, which provides solutions for aerospace and defence, said the government's decision will provide a much-needed fillip to Indian defence manufacturing companies.
"As a long-term partner with deep partnerships with key strategic organizations like DRDO and ISRO for over 30 years, we look forward to developing a domestic eco-system to help boost India's domestic defence manufacturing capabilities in India and support the vision of self-reliance, said Godrej & Boyce CMD Jamshyd N. Godrej.
The CII termed the announcements as "path-breaking" and stated, "Today is a historic day for Indian industry in the defence and aerospace. Can assure the Defence Minister that the Indian defence and aerospace industry will rise to the challenge and opportunities therein."
S. P. Shukla, Chair, FICCI Defence Committee, said the move is a great leap forward towards building a self-reliant India.
"FICCI applauds the announcement of 101 #defence items for embargo on imports. A great leap forward for #AtmanirbharBharat in RakshaUtpadan," Shukla tweeted.
"Great move to earmark Rs 52k cr for domestic capital procurement. It fulfills a request by FICCI Defence Committee to provide long-term visibility on defence procurement plans. Industry can now plan its capex & production capacity," he said in another tweet.
Assocham Secretary General Deepak Sood said with India being amongst the largest importers of weapons, ammunition and high technology systems for the armed forces, self-reliance in defence production is the most desired policy initiative.
"Increased capabilities in defence production not only offer a great economic opportunity for the domestic industry but also give an immense strategic advantage to the country in a fast-evolving geopolitical situation," he added.
The list of 101 embargoed items comprises some high-technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircraft, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars and many other items.
Singh said all necessary steps would be taken to ensure that timelines for domestic production of equipment identified under the negative list for import are met, adding the measures will include a co-ordinated mechanism for hand-holding of the industry by the defence services.
"The embargo on imports is planned to be progressively implemented between 2020 and 2024. The aim behind promulgation of the list is to appraise the Indian defence industry about the anticipated requirements of the armed forces so that they are better prepared to realise the goal of indigenisation," he said.