‘India to ensure greater private sector role in defence’

February 15th, 2008 - 6:35 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) India plans to make its defence offsets policy open, transparent and less rigid and ensure bigger participation of private players in the military hardware business, a top government official said Friday. “India has gradually liberalized its defence trade by allowing 100 per cent private investment by domestic companies and increasing the number of licences granted to private players,” Secretary (Defence Production) Pradeep Kumar said.

He was speaking at the fourth India-Britain Defence Industry Symposium organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Defence Manufacturers Association of Britain here.

According to Kumar, the symposium would provide Britain with a platform to understand India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) policy in the defence sector.

“Our defence equipment companies are competitive and global biggies are outsourcing their work to Indian firms,” he pointed out.

Kumar also called on industry to promote small and medium enterprises as they acted as a vital link with large organizations.

Deputy British High Commissioner Creon Butler said: “India should raise the FDI limit in defence sector to 49 percent from 26 percent.”

According to Butler, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s recent visit to India “will take our relationship to a new level. The Tata-Corus and Hutch-Vodafone deals demonstrate our close engagement.”

While pointing out that of late, more British companies are investing in India, Butler said his country “provides the best climate to Indian companies for foreign direct investment.

“India plans to meet 70 percent of its defence equipment needs domestically. Thus there are tremendous possibilities for partnerships with the Indian industry,” Butler said, adding that British companies were working closely with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other R&D organizations of India.

Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Mackay, senior military adviser to the British Defence Export Services Organisation, said: “India and the UK share a passion for engineering. We need new alliances to compete in the new world order.”

“We can take advantage of each other’s technological skills. We are willing to enter joint licenced production arrangements with Indian companies,” Mackay added.

In his welcome remarks, Atul Kirloskar, chairman of the CII national committee on defence and chairman and managing director of Kirloskar Oil Engines said: “The participation of the British companies in the symposium is quite encouraging. There is an excellent climate for collaboration in the field of defence between India and the UK.”

“Defence has been a key pillar of India-UK ties,” he added.

Rear Admiral Rees Ward, director general of Britain’s Defence Manufacturers Association, said: “India and the UK should encourage defence trade for mutual benefit. The Indian market is very competitive and is poised to emerge as an important force in the global defence market.”

“India has a viable manufacturing hub which can meet the needs of the global market,” he added.

In his concluding remarks, CII director general Lt. Gen. (retd) S.S. Mehta said: “I expect lots of things moving from India to Britain.”

He also urged Britain to share dual-use technology, saying: “Defence is needed to maintain peace and prosperity. India needs injection of technology to attain inclusive and sustainable growth.”

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