Prospect of ‘Make in India’ in defense sector

NEW DELHI: In his recent speech addressing the ‘Technoprom 2017’, the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has openly expressed his view on collaborating with Russia and others over establishing defense manufacturing bases in India. Though the country’s resolve is to manufacture high-end military equipment under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the important question is how favorable are the nations to accept India’s request?

India has been one of the World’s biggest importers of defense equipment and hence, following the ‘Make in India’ initiative will help the Indian government to save thousands of crores in foreign exchange. The Finance Minister is of the opinion that Russia would naturally accept the offer, given its strategic relationship with them. If it happens, India can slowly graduate from a country manufacturing small military equipment to having a manufacturing base to construct high-end military missiles.

For this to happen, the most important thing to be taken into account is the willingness of the countries to agree over ‘transfer of defence technology’ to another nation. The first country to say a big ‘NO’ for this proposal will be the United States. Despite the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his counterpart Donald Trump recently, the political analysts are of the opinion that the US may not agree on ‘Make In India’  which is against one of the US president’s fundamental principles of not allowing jobs from the US to move outside. Overall, there is a big question mark on whether the United States under the leadership of Donald Trump agrees on transferring technology to India!

Sources said that President Trump wanted his Indian counterpart to liberalise rules and regulations further, for American companies to invest in India. It may sound tricky, but the overall decision on this aspect lies in the hands of the union cabinet and the economic experts in India. Also, there is a buzz in the PMO that the Prime Minister is against ‘liberalizing the rules for foreign investments beyond a limit”.

However, India expects a positive reply from Israel with the recent bilateral talks being successful and both the countries terming the meeting as ‘historical’.

Despite the unfavourable situation for ‘Make In India’ initiative from the US, President Donald Trump has already signalled towards an enhanced defence ties with India. He praised India as one of its ‘major defence partners’ and expressed his willingness to sell sophisticated military equipment. The announcement from the US will help India, at a time where its neighbours are advancing towards a war. India has already inked an agreement to buy F-16 and F/A-18 fighters from the US, for which all the legal process is complete.

In the end, as of now, It is evident that India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative in defence sector can only happen, if its all time ally Russia, France and Israel come to its aid.

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