On the 15th anniversary of 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi asked on his blog on Saturday why India continues to spend thousands of crores of rupees on defence imports.
"Today, on the 15th anniversary of the Pokhran tests, there is a crucial question that we have to answer - how do we become self-sufficient in defence manufacturing? ... This is not only about military power but also about being self-reliant for our own defence equipment," he wrote.
"After around 65 years of Independence, why must we still spend thousands of crore of rupees to procure defence equipment from overseas?"
Lauding former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi said that Pokhran tests were possible because of "stellar work of our scientists and the strong leadership India was blessed with at that point of time."
"This is a challenge for our youth, talent pool, scientists - how we can combine our strengths and make India sufficient in defence-related manufacturing!" Modi wrotes.
"We should think of a larger debate, encourage free flowing of ideas to think of how India can develop human resources in defence manufacturing. Can we create an ecosystem to strengthen our manufacturing? Going a step ahead, we should even think of how we can export defence equipment," he wrote.
"In Gujarat we have made a small effort in this regard. In our engineering colleges we are working towards starting a subject related to defence manufacturing," he added.