Bengaluru, Feb 18: Expressing confidence that India would emerge as a major global centre for defence industry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today promised conducive business environment for domestic as well as foreign players, including a discrimination-free tax system.
Inaugurating 'Aero India' show, the Prime Minister said the country needs to increase its defence preparedness and modernise its forces due to security challenges that were well known and invited foreign firms to become India's strategic partners rather than remaining just sellers.
He said government's focus is to reduce imports and develop domestic defence industry with a sense of mission which it "is at the heart of our Make in India programme".
"We will build an industry that will have room for everyone - public sector, private sector and foreign firms," he said, adding the intention of the government was to develop a dynamic defence industry. Modi said a strong defence industry would not only make the country more secure but also make it more prosperous.
"We must ensure that our tax system does not discriminate against domestic manufacture in comparison to imports," he said at Asia's premier air show at the IAF Yelahanka air base on the city outskirts. The Prime Minister said India's defence industry will succeed more "if we can transform the manufacturing sector in the country". Stressing on the need for reducing imports, Modi said, "If we could raise percentage of domestic procurement from 40 per cent to 70 per cent in next five years, we would double the output in our defence industry".
He also said studies have shown that even a 20 to 25 per cent reduction in imports could directly create additional 100,000 to 120,000 highly skilled jobs in the country. Modi also spoke about involving country's scientists soldiers, academia, industry and independent experts more closely in research and development. Modi said as a nation of one billion people India also has a huge requirement for managing internal security. "We are increasingly integrating technology and systems into it," he said.
The Prime Minister also told the participating overseas delegations that for too many of them India is a major business opportunity with the reputation as the largest importer of defence equipments in the world. "That may be music to the ears of some of you here but this is one area where we would not like to be number one," Modi said at the biennial event, being attended by more than 250 Indian companies and 300 foreign firms.
Defence Ministers, senior officials, and hundreds of business leaders from around the world are also in attendance at the largest ever AeroIndia, where Modi government's "Make in India" programme is in the spotlight. "Our security challenges are well known, our international responsibilities are evident, and we too need to increase our defence preparedness. We do have to modernise our defence forces. We have to equip ourselves for the needs of the future where technology will play a major role," he said.