Pandemic has hit defence production: Rajnath Singh
Singh spoke about the hardships faced by the defence industry at an e-conclave. He said the lockdown has hit the manufacturing sector, disrupted supply chains while the defence industry has also been affected due to the strict confinement measures.Updated: May 22, 2020 04:21 IST
Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the lockdown imposed to check the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in late March has hit defence manufacturing harder than other sectors. He added it is because the government is the only buyer of the defence products.
Singh spoke about the hardships faced by the defence industry at an e-conclave. He said the lockdown has hit the manufacturing sector, disrupted supply chains while the defence industry has also been affected due to the strict confinement measures.
The Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the department of defence production jointly organised SIDM MSME Conclave 2020.
Singh said the economic package and the reforms the Centre has announced to tide over the Covid-19 crisis and to give a push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-Reliant India Movement)’ would strengthen the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector and generate employment.
He called MSMEs Indian economy’s backbone as they have accelerated gross domestic product growth, brought in valuable foreign exchange through exports and provided employment opportunities.
Singh said over 8,000 MSMEs were an integral part of the production process of the ordnance factories, defence public sector undertakings, dockyards and base repair depots, and their share equalled nearly 20% of the overall the production of these organisations. He said the government was committed to keeping MSMEs strong.
Singh praised the contribution of MSMEs in India’s fight against the pandemic. “I am very happy to know that SIDM has accelerated the manufacturing of DRDO [Defence Research and Development Organisation] designed personal protective equipment kits, masks, ventilator parts…In less than two months, we have not only met our domestic demand, but we can also think of helping neighbouring countries...,” a defence ministry statement quoted Singh as saying.
He said the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan would provide a raft of opportunities to industry and help create millions of jobs.
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week announced a series of measures to boost self-reliance in the defence sector. They include an increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence manufacturing, a separate budget for buying locally-made military hardware and a list of weapons/equipment that cannot be imported. The other measures included corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board, indigenisation of imported spares and setting of realistic qualitative requirements for weapons to support the local industry.
The FDI limit in the defence manufacturing sector under the automatic route has been increased from 49% to 74%.