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India’s Gradual Transition from ‘Defense Market’ to ‘Export Hub’ -
India’s Gradual Transition from ‘Defense Market’ to ‘Export Hub’

2019, the final year of current Indian government, is the perfect time to trace and evaluate how much progress India has made on some of the ambitious targets related to defense sector i.e. promotion of indigenous defense development, reducing country’s defense import dependence and further changing India’s status from a ‘defense market’ to ‘defense export hub.’ At first glance, with India’s current status of defense imports, these objectives seem unlikely to succeed but careful observation reveals that India is making steady progress in reversing the existing trends. Throughout the last four and a half years, in between the headlines on some major trends about defense deals, some minor yet impactful moves and numbers remained out of focus. The unfair coverage and muted responses of media for some of the critical moves of the Ministry of Defense, in a way, turned out to be good for their successes because sometimes spotlight becomes a target.

India is at a crucial juncture of its journey towards self-reliance in defense production which started primarily with imports, then gradually progressed towards licensed production from the 1970s, took substantial form in 1980s and 1990s and now we are talking about indigenous design, development, manufacturing and export capabilities. A sector which was closed to the private sector till 2001, when for the first time former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee opened it up for private sector participation, has a lot a more to do to develop a defense industrial complex and export potentials. From the experiences of the growth of other sectors such as automobile and heavy engineering, we can hope that directed and gradual progress can bring a significant change in the future. It appears that ‘defense diplomacy’ and ‘defense reforms’ are the two key areas in which the Government has dedicated majority of its efforts.

originally published by Vivekananda International Foundation Read more…

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Devsena Mishra promotes advanced technologies, the startup ecosystem and government business and technology related initiatives like Digital India, Make in India and Startup India through her portals, articles, videos and books.