CHENNAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday declared that India’s commitment to peace was just as strong as its commitment to protecting its people and the country’s territory.
Inaugurating the Defexpo’s 10th edition on the East Coast Road near here in the historic region of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Modi said the government was ready to take all necessary measures to equip the armed forces, including through the establishment of a strategically independent defence industrial complex.
In a veiled message to the neighbouring nations, particularly China with whom India’s border is yet to be settled and territorial disputes keep sprouting, Mr. Modi said India has never desired anyone’s territory.
“India believes in winning hearts, message of peace and universal brotherhood has been spread since vedic times,’’ he said while referring to the spread of Buddhism to the world and Emperor Ashoka’s strength to protect highest ideals of humanity.
Stating that there was a time when the critical issue of defence preparedness was hampered by policy paralysis, he quipped: “We have seen the damage such laziness, incompetence or perhaps some hidden motives, can cause to the nation. Not now, Not anymore, Never again.”
He said the government successfully resolved the issue of providing bullet proof jackets to Indian soldiers which was kept hanging for years. His oblique attack was directed at the Congress President Rahul Gandhi who has alleged scam in defence deals, particularly Rafale fighter aircraft deal with France.
“We have brought the process to a successful conclusion with a contract that will provide a boost to defence manufacturing in India”, he said.
Mr. Modi said the government has not only taken bold action to meet critical requirements of the forces, but also initiated a new process to procure 110 fighter aircrafts, adding the government would not wait for 10 years to procure arms for the forces.
The Prime Minister underlined a number of steps taken by his government over the last few years towards ease of doing business in India. “On defence manufacturing licenses, on defence offsets, on defence exports clearances, on Foreign Direct Investment in defence manufacturing, and on reforming our defence procurement, we have taken many steps,’’ he told the gathering.
Mr. Modi said the defence procurement procedure has been revised with many specific provisions for stimulating growth of domestic defence industry.
Quoting figures to bolster his arguments, Mr. Modi said in May 2014, the total number of defence export permission granted stood at 118, for a total value of 577 million dollars. “In less than four years, we have issued 794 more export permissions, for a total value of over 1.3 billion dollars,” he said.
“We are committed to establishing two Defence industrial corridors – one in Tamil Nadu and another in Uttar Pradesh. These will utilize defence manufacturing ecosystems in the regions and further build upon it. The corridors will become engines of economic development and growth of
defence industrial base,’’ he said.
The Prime Minister who formally launched the ‘Innovation for Defence Excellence’ (IDEX) scheme at Defexpo, said it will set up defence innovation hubs throughout the country to provide necessary incubation and infrastructure support to the start-ups in defence sector will be encouraged.
His nearly half-an-hour speech laid down the government’s roadmap to take India to its goal of being one of key makers and exporters of defence equipment.
He reminded the people that Tamil Nadu is the land of the great Cholas who established India’s historical civilization links through trade and education. “India is a land of glorious maritime legacy, and Tamil Nadu has been at the forefront of that legacy. This is the land from where India Looked East and Acted East for thousands of years,’’ he added.
Noting that over 500 Indian companies and over 150 foreign companies are participating in the DefExpo 2018 and more than 40 countries have sent their official delegations, Mr. Modi said that it was for the first time that he was at the Defexpo.
Later, the Prime Minister also witnessed a live demonstration of fire-power, air display, and land warfare by Navy, Army and Air Force.