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India bans import of 101 defence items to boost indigenization

In a major announcement on Sunday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has banned the import of 101 defence items including artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircraft, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars and many more.

The idea behind the import ban is to make the Indian defence sector self-reliant and boost indigenisation with a view to working on the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan movement as was espoused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The embargo on imports will be implemented between 2020 and 2025 ensuring that contracts worth Rs four lakh crore will come to the domestic industry. Of these, items worth almost Rs 1.3 lakh crore each are anticipated for the army and the air force while items worth almost Rs 1.4 lakh crore are anticipated for the navy.

Singh said, "The Ministry of Defence is now ready for a big push to the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. MoD will introduce an import embargo on 101 items beyond the given timeline to boost indigenisation of defence production."

Modi had on May 12 called for a self-reliant India and had announced a special economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore, equalling ten per cent of the Indian GDP. Today's announcement by the Defence Minister is in line with making the country self-reliant in the defence sector.

The Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) prepared this list of 101 items and plan to review it every year. The government might even add more items to the list after a review with DMA.

The import ban offers an opportunity to the Indian defence sector to pursue its own research and development capabilities. It can also lie-up with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to meet the requirements of the armed forces in the coming years.

"The list was prepared by MoD after several rounds of consultations with all stakeholders, including the Army, Air Force, Navy, DRDO, defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and private industry to assess current and future capabilities of the Indian industry for manufacturing various ammunition /weapons /platforms /equipment within India," the MoD said in a statement.

The minister added that all necessary steps would be taken to ensure that timelines for production of equipment as per the Negative Import List are met. The list also includes wheeled armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) with indicative import embargo date of December 2021, of which the Army is expected to contract almost 200 at an approximate cost of over Rs 5,000 crore.

"More such equipment for import embargo would be identified progressively by the DMA in consultation with all stakeholders. A due note of this will also be made in the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) to ensure that no item in the negative list is processed for import in the future," the ministry said..