Antony bemoans high quantum of imports for defence needsFebruary 9th, 2009 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS
Bangalore, Feb 9 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Monday regretted that India still depended on foreign countries for meeting 70 percent of its defence requirements despite claiming to have the world’s fourth largest scientific community.
“Though India is among the few nations that possess the capacity to develop, test, manufacture and operate aircraft, we realise that we are far, far behind fulfilling the dream of our first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, whose goal was self-reliance in the defence sector,” Antony said at an international seminar on aerospace technologies.
Admitting that the public and private sectors were still far from realising Nehru’s dream, Antony said producing only 30 percent of the country’s defence needs by both the sectors was not acceptable or suitable though zero import was not practicable in such a high technology field.
“I feel sorry and sometime guilty when we see the growth in self-reliance is very slow. This is not suitable for us. Though I don’t visualise a day when we can have zero imports, depending on other countries for 70 percent of our defence needs is not acceptable,” Antony told about 600 delegates participating in the three-day seminar, being held as part of the seventh biennial Aero India 2009 expo in this tech hub.
Exhorting the Indian scientific community and the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to step-up their research and development efforts for self-reliance in aerospace technologies and products, Antony said the government would not be wanting in extending budgetary or resource support.
“We will give you all support. But you must try to give more quickly. The delivery should be fast in design, development and ultimate delivery. We are taking too much time. Though your achievements are notable, you must speed up the delivery process to meet the growing needs of our armed forces,” Antony told his scientific advisor and DRDO secretary M. Natarajan, who was seated on the dais along with other dignitaries.
Referring to the unconventional means of warfare used by terrorists in the 9/11 attacks and the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, the defence minister said such methods demanded a calibrated international response.
“The dynamics of security are changing continuously across the world. The methods used by terrorists require a collective and well-coordinated response. Our long international borders pose diverse challenges to our armed forces. India’s strategic location makes it imperative for us to maintain a credible land, air and maritime force to safeguard our security interests,” Antony pointed out.
Highlighting the role of aerospace in defence capabilities spanning military and civil applications, the minister said since technology was prone to change at a rapid pace, sharing its benefits was imperative in developing cost effective solutions.
“For sharing the benefits of technology, we must invest in aerospace R&D so as to build better infrastructure to the indigenous industry and our armed forces. The aviation sector is witnessing a large-scale expansion. Our scientists and manufacturers need exposure to the best international practices to hone their skills,” Antony affirmed.
To modernise and indigenise the country’s defence preparedness, Antony said the government had come out with offsets policy aimed at enhancing the technical and manufacturing potential of the aerospace industry in the public and private sectors.
“It is our firm belief that the offsets policy will prove beneficial to the Indian industry and foreign partners. The public and private sectors will be entitled to share the benefits of the policy, including investments in R&D,” Antony noted.