On 9th August 2020, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a benchmark decision banning India from importing 101 different defence materials and weapons platforms.
The move is aimed at promoting Indian defence industry manufacturers and to promote self-reliance within India’s defence sector. In comments reported by Business Standard, Rajnath said, “This decision will offer great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to manufacture items on the negative list by using its own design and development capabilities or adopting the technologies designed and developed by the Defence R&D Organisation to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces.”
The ban will be applied on an annual basis. As foreign defence materials are added to the ban list, the Indian military will be required to purchase those materials from Indian defence manufacturers.
India will complete what existing deals may exist to buy foreign defence equipment and materials. When those deals with foreign firms expire and if Indian defence manufacturers can make those materials themselves, the import bans will be extended to those foreign firms.
“The embargo on imports is planned to be progressively implemented between 2020 and 2024. Our aim is to appraise the Indian defence industry about the anticipated requirements of the Armed Forces so that they are better prepared to realize the goal of indigenization,” Rajnath said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsed the new import embargoes from his own Twitter account shortly after Sigh’s announcement.
Starting in December the Indian Armed forces will begin looking to domestic firms for 69 categories of defence equipment, including self-propelled and towed artillery guns, multi-barrelled rocket launchers, bulletproof jackets and helmets, several types of warships, light transport aircraft, light combat fighter aircraft, light combat helicopters, and ground transport vehicles. At the start of the 2022 fiscal year, India will begin buying another 11 more types of domestically-manufactured equipment, including wheeled tanks, light machine guns and assault rifles.
The Indian defence establishment already buys many types of domestically-manufactured defence platforms and weapon components. With the new policy, India will now implement formal guidelines and codes of conduct for such domestic defence contracts.
Between April 2015 and August 2020, the military bought Rs 3.5 trillion worth of defence equipment in these 101 categories.
Rajnath estimated that, within the next six to seven years, India will award contracts for Rs 4 trillion worth of domestic defence materials. Specifically, the Indian Navy will sign contracts for six conventional submarines worth Rs 42,000 crore, Business Standard reported. The Air Force will buy 123 HAL Tejas fighters for Rs 85,000 crore.