Defence manufacturing could be India’s biggest job spinner: Modi to WSJ

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 26, 2016 11:23 IST
New Delhi desperately needs to modernise its aging Russian-era equipment as China and Pakistan upgrade their arsenal with latest technology and purchases. (AP)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has identified defence manufacturing as India’s biggest job spinner, saying the government was committed to making arms and equipment at home.

Talking to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, the eve of the second anniversary of his government, Modi said India certainly wanted to go ahead with manufacturing “because we have a lot of defence imports”.

India is the world’s largest importer of arms, accounting for 14% of global purchases. New Delhi desperately needs to modernise its aging Russian-era equipment as China and Pakistan upgrade their arsenal with latest technology and purchases.

Read | Union Budget 2016: Marginal hike of 9.7% in India’s defence budget

“If I look at it from an economic point of view and to provide jobs to my country’s young peope, the defence-manufacturing sector can provide maximum number of jobs to my country’s youth,” he told WSJ. He was working hard for it and had been talking to other countries as well.

“Today, unlike before, India is not standing in a corner,” he added.

The government has relaxed foreign investment norms for the defence sector that also figures big in its ambitious Make In India plan.

Talking about India’s relationship with the US, Modi said it was a matter of great pride that the US congress had invited him to address a joint session.

Modi will be in the US on June 7 and 8 for his fourth visit to the country in two years.

President Barack Obama and he “have developed a kind of friendship where we speak freely to each other”.

India sought closer ties will all its neighbours but won’t compromise on terrorism, Modi said when asked about improving ties with Pakistan.

Read | Sparks fly in parliamentary panel meet on poor defence readiness

When he was voted to power, he had invited Saarc leaders to his swearing-in, making clear his intentions to build stronger ties with all the neighbours. “The development I desire for India, I want the same for our neighbours and that is why I visited Lahore as well”.

Modi’s surprise Christmas stopover in Lahore was overshadowed a week later by an audacious militant strike on the Pathankot airbase. India blames Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed for the assault that left seven securitymen dead and derailed the dialogue process.

“Yes, terrorism in a concern for the whole world. We can’t compromise on terrorism, nor should we,” Modi said

On being asked about China and US ties that have come under strain over the South China Sea dispute, Modi said there were substantial differences but there were areas where the two sides worked closely. “This is the new way. If we want to ensure the success of this interdependent world, I think countries need to cooperate, but at the same time we also need to ensure that there is respect for international norms and international rules.”

Full coverage: Modi govt@2

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