India will continue with its arms acquisition programmes and defence preparedness despite the economic recession, Defence Minister AK Antony said in Bangalore on Wednesday.
"There is no question of scaling down our defence expenditure, which is 2.5 per cent of our GDP (gross domestic product) or compromise with our (arms) acquisition programmes despite the economic recession," Antony said at the seventh edition of Aero India 2009 international air show in Bangalore.
Claiming that India was among the fastest expanding aerospace markets in the world, Antony said state-run defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) had evolved into an integrated aerospace organisation.
"India has emerged as an attractive market and a key outsourcing hub for global aerospace firms due to low-cost, skilled engineers, good organisations, software and technology," Antony said at the inaugural show of the five-day event.
Expressing confidence that the biennial event would provide ample opportunities to domestic and overseas players to explore the business potential in the aerospace and aviation sector, the minister said the defence industry was opened up to 100 per cent participation for the Indian private sector and up to 26 per cent for foreign direct investment.
"Over the years, Aero India has increased its reach, both in terms of participation and infrastructure. This year, the domestic participation has gone up to 40 per cent over the previous show in 2007," Antony noted.
"It is also heartening to know that 50 foreign delegations and 16 ministerial delegations have come calling for the air show," he added.
At the politico-security level, India has always been recognised as a responsible power and a stabilising factor in the South Asian region despite facing various security challenges originating from different sources.
"Our sustained economic growth provides ample opportunities to our neighbours to tap into this economic dynamism. The onus lies with them to derive gains from it," Antony said in his inaugural address at the Indian Air Force station in Yelahanka, about 20 km from the city.