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New Delhi: Indian Army Chief Manoj Mukund Naravane on Thursday said India was lagging behind its adversaries “slightly" when it came to defence modernization adding that the country’s military hardware needs to be addressed by ramping up indigenous capabilities.

Speaking at a seminar on the partnership between the Army and industry in New Delhi, Naravane said : “Our external dependence for weapons and ammunition creates vulnerabilities in times of crisis."

“However, in the last years we have tried to reverse this trend by boosting indigenisation and focusing on dual use high end technology," he said.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s “Trends in international arms transfers 2019" report, India was listed as the second largest arms importers in the world, second only to Saudi Arabia. India is also one of the top military spenders in the world. To cut India’s dependence on imports, the Indian government has offered domestic industry incentives like creating a list of more than 100 pieces of defence equipment and hardware that will be procured from domestic manufacturers only. Earlier this month, the Indian Air Force placed an order for 83 indigenously built Tejas fighter aircraft with the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in a deal worth an estimated 48,000 crores.

In his speech, Naravane said the defence forces were “committed to procuring indigenous equipment and weapon systems as nothing is more motivating for any army then to fight and win its wars with indigenous technologies and weapons."

Encouraging the private industry to take advantage of the government's reform measures to boost domestic defence production, he said the Army was strongly committed to support them.

"Today self-reliance in defence has become a strategic necessity. It is imperative for us to invest in building long term indigenous capabilities for application across the entire spectrum of conflict. Considering the quick pace of defence modernisation being undertaken by our adversaries, we are lagging behind slightly. The continuous and heavy dependence of Indian armed forces on equipment of foreign origin needs to be addressed through indigenous capability development," he added.

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