Atmanirbharta in Defence: Approval of 4th Positive Indigenisation List
Dr Pravesh Kumar Gupta, Associate Fellow, VIF

The Hindi term "Atmanirbharta" means "self-reliance" or "self-sufficiency." In the defence domain, "Atmanirbharta" refers to India's objective of becoming self-sufficient in defence capabilities, reducing reliance on other nations for defence purchases, and increasing domestic defence manufacturing. Atmanirbharta in Defence is an initiative to expand India's defence sector, support creativity and R&D, and improve the nation's defence manufacturing capabilities. The purpose is to minimise import dependency, improve technological capabilities, and strengthen India's defence ecosystem.

The Indian government has launched several initiatives and policy reforms in order to attain Atmanirbharta in Defence.

Make in India: The Make in India programme promotes domestic and global defence industries to set up manufacturing units in India. Its goal is to encourage domestic defence equipment design, development, and manufacturing. As a result of the Make in India programme, the country has been able to transition from a defence importer to an exporter. India's defence exports reached a new high of Rs 14,000 crores, and the government is now aiming for Rs 25,000 crores in exports by 2025.

Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP): The DPP has been updated to incorporate regulations prioritizing indigenous procurement and promoting Indian enterprises' participation in defence contracts. It encourages indigenous content, technological transfer, and offsets. Over INR 2.71 lakh crore worth of procurement was cleared in FY 2022-23 of which 99% will be sourced from Indian industries.

Technology Development Fund (TDF): It was founded to fund defence research and development initiatives. It gives financing to public and commercial organisations for developing essential defence technology. As an outcome, in February 2023, a Missile Cum Ammunition (MCA) Barge, Yard 75 (LSAM 7) was launched by Rear Admiral Sandeep Mehta in Andhra Pradesh using all major and auxiliary equipment / systems sourced from indigenous manufacturers. 8 such barges are being constructed by a private firm M/s SECON at Visakhapatnam.

Defence Industrial Corridors: To boost defence manufacturing centres, the Indian government has designated selected locations as defence industrial corridors. These corridors seek to attract investors, enable knowledge transfer, and create a favourable climate for defence manufacturing. The Tamil Nadu Defence Corridor, being set up by the Government of Tamil Nadu, consists of the following five nodal points: Chennai, Coimbatore, Hosur, Salem and Tiruchirappalli. Similarly, the Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor is being set up by the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA). It consists of the six nodal points (Agra, Aligarh, Chitrakoot, Jhansi, Kanpur and Lucknow) with the potential to develop defence industries in the corridor.

The nodal agency for Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor (UPDIC) has signed 69 MoUs with industry with potential investment of INR 10,545 crore. Actual Investment of INR 1,767 crore has been made by the industries in UPDIC. The nodal agency for Tamil Nadu Defence Industrial Corridor (TNDIC) has arranged investment worth potential of INR 11,359 crore through MoUs etc. with 42 industries. Actual investment worth INR 3,176 crore has been made by the industries in TNDIC.

Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO): The DRDO is critical in developing indigenous defence technology and systems. It works with a variety of governmental and private organisations to improve India's defence capabilities. As a result, the DRDO and Indian Army successfully conduct six flight-tests of Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile system off the Odisha coast in September 2022.

Approval of 4th Positive Indigenisation List (PIL)

To promote 'Aatmanirbharta' in defence and reduce imports by Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh has approved the 4th Positive Indigenisation List (PIL) of 928 strategically important Line Replacement Units (LRUs)/Sub-systems/Spares & Components, including high-end materials and spares, with an import substitution value of Rs 715 crore. These will only be obtained from the Indian industry after the deadlines specified in the list.

This fourth list builds on the previous three PILs, which involved LRUs/Sub-systems/Assemblies/Sub-assemblies/Spares & Components and were issued in December 2021, March 2022, and August 2022, respectively. These lists include 2,500 goods that have already been indigenised and 1,238 (351+107+780) items that will be indigenised within the timeframes specified. So far, out of 1,238articles 310 (1st PIL: 262, 2nd PIL: 11, 3rd PIL: 37) have been indigenised.

The DPSUs will indigenize these items through various routes under the 'Make' category and in-house development using the capabilities of MSMEs and private Indian industry, thereby boosting economic growth, increasing defence investment, and reducing DPSU import dependence. Furthermore, incorporating universities and research organisations will enhance the local defence industry's design skills.

As an important component of Rising India, concentrating on Atmanirbharta in Defence, intends to lower its import cost, increase domestic defence production, generate jobs, and increase its strategic autonomy in defence-related subjects. The long-term goal is to make India a significant defence exporter while ensuring that the domestic defence needs of the nation are sufficiently fulfilled.

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

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