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Union defence minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the government will soon be adding more products to the list of hardware that cannot be purchased from foreign suppliers, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the industry that the military hardware, which Indian firms were capable of designing and manufacturing in the country, will not be procured from abroad.

Both Modi and Singh were speaking at an event hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers on the budget proposals to boost domestic manufacturing of defence hardware.

Singh said about 70,000 crore of the capital allocation of 1.35 trillion for the defence sector will be reserved for domestic procurements. He added that the government will bring out a new list of military hardware that India will not source from foreign companies. Currently, there are 101 items on the list that was made public last year.

“We now intend to notify the next list of items and would also request secretary, DMA (department of military affairs), that they should consider including certain spares currently being procured from outside so that we could indigenize the same," Singh said.

Singh’s announcement is in line with India’s plans to reduce its dependency on defence imports and ensure that Asia’s third largest economy becomes a manufacturer of armaments.

Singh also said the defence ministry was working on the delays in capital acquisition. “We will make efforts to complete the defence acquisition within two years, instead of the existing 3-4 years being taken on the average."

Modi urged local firms to take the initiative not only in manufacturing but also in developing the latest hardware. “I want to assure you that all procurements in the defence sector that can be designed and made in India by an Indian public sector or private sector firm, that will not be procured from outside, we will have this approach," Modi said.

He said the defence budget has kept aside funds to buy arms exclusively from Indian companies. “I would like the Indian companies to consider design and development of hardware along with manufacturing."

At the biennial DefExpo last year, Modi had said that the industry must set a target to export $5 billion of military hardware by 2025.

Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat programme, the government unveiled a slew of measures aimed at promoting manufacturing to make India self-reliant. In defence, the cap on foreign ownership was raised to 74% to attract overseas investment.

That India figured consistently among the world’s top arms importers was not a matter of distinction, Modi said on Monday. Among the steps taken to boost local manufacturing was a list of 101 platforms that India has decided to source locally, he said.

“In government terminology, this is called a ‘negative’ list," Modi said.

“But in my view, in the terms of self reliance, it is a positive list because it is based on this that our domestic manufacturing will become strong, job creation will improve, it will cut dependence on foreign nations and is a guarantor of the sales of India-made products in India, Modi said.

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