Apr 3, 2023 | Blog
About Aatmanirbhar India
The Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, or Self-reliant India campaign, is a movement which was launched by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, in May 2020. Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan aims to make the citizens of India self-reliant in all aspects. The Prime Minister of India outlined five major pillars of self-reliant India: economy, infrastructure, system, vibrant demography and demand.
The Union Budget 2022–23 has given momentum to Aatmanirbharta in defence. The budget has depicted India’s true efforts to achieve self-reliance in the defense sector. Around 70% of the defense budget has been reserved for the domestic defense industry. Contracts worth Rs. 54,000 crore (US$ 7.1 billion) have been signed for domestic procurement. Furthermore, the country’s arms exports stood at Rs. 11,607 crore (US$ 1.5 billion) during FY 2021–22, 6x increase compared to 2014.
Aatmanirbharta in Defence
India is one of the largest arms importers in the world, accounting for 11% of the total arms sales globally. Enhancing the defense technology, achieving customization and uniqueness is important for India to develop a surprise element over its nemesis. For encouraging industries and start-ups, The Defence Minister of India, Mr. Rajnath Singh, stated that research and development is crucial to achieving self-reliance in the defense sector.
If we talk about the indigenization of the Indian Army, the ongoing indigenization process is running at full pace. Earlier, India had stopped imports of 101 weapons and platforms including sniper rifles, towed artillery guns, surface to air missiles, howitzers, bullet-proof jackets, radar warning receivers, missile defense systems, helicopters among others.
The induction of Indian-made artillery and weapons is one of the key reasons behind the growth of the Indian defense manufacturing environment. Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane said that the Indian Army has been undergoing full-fledged modernization and the Armed Forces have been increasingly looking at indigenous solutions for its operational needs. In December 2020, the Ministry of Defence cleared the induction of 180 Arjun Mark-1A tanks in the Indian Army. These battle tanks are indigenously produced by the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO).
The Defence Minister of India, Mr. Rajnath Singh, launched 75 newly-developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) products/technologies during the first-ever ‘AI in Defence’ (AIDef) symposium and exhibition, organized by Ministry of Defence in New Delhi on July 11, 2022. The products, launched as part of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations, fall under various domains. These include AI Platform Automation; Autonomous/Unmanned/Robotics systems; Block Chain-based Automation; Command, Control, Communication, Computer & Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance; Cyber Security; Human Behavioral Analysis.
The Make in India movement in the defense sector will be a key towards Aatmanirbharta in Defense. The Make in India movement has been effective in supplying various equipment which are being extensively used by the armed forces of India. From 2018 to 2021, the government of India granted Acceptance of Necessity to over 150 proposals worth Rs. 2,47,515 crore (US$ 32.4 billion) under various categories of capital procurement, which is expected to enhance local manufacturing as per The Defense Acquisition Procedure (DAP- 2020).
The FM announced that 25% of the defense R&D budget would be reserved for the local industry, start-ups and academia. This translates to `53,300 crore R&D budget in FY23, which will be spent outside the labs of the DRDO—India’s premier defense R&D agency that has so far enjoyed a monopoly in India’s defense technology development.
A robust government policy will help in achieving the objectives of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. The Union Budget 2022–23 serves as a blueprint for enhancing and developing a vibrant ecosystem through research and development, indigenous manufacturing, modern technology, etc. Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan will create several opportunities for start-ups and private sector companies to showcase their domestic capabilities.