Defence minister Rajnath Singh said all necessary steps would be taken to ensure that the timelines for the production of the equipment on the negative import list are met

Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that the government has prepared a list 101 items on which there would be an embargo on import to give a push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (Self-Reliant India Movement).

The list includes artillery guns, missile destroyers, ship-borne cruise missiles, light combat aircraft, light transport aircraft, long-range land attack cruise missiles, communication satellites, basic trainer aircraft, multi-barrel rocket launchers, a variety of radars, assault rifles, sniper rifles, mini UAVs and different types of ammunition.

The list also spells out when the embargo kicks in for different items --- between 2020 and 2025.

All necessary steps would be taken to ensure that the timelines for the production of the equipment on the negative import list are met, Singh said.

“The list also includes, wheeled Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) with indicative import embargo date of December 2021, of which the Army is expected to contract almost 200 at an approximate cost of over Rs 5,000 crore,” the minister said.

He said the ministry has split the capital procurement budget for 2020-21 between domestic and foreign capital procurement routes. “A separate budget head has been created with an outlay of nearly Rs 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement in the current financial year,” he said.

From raising foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence manufacturing to creating a separate budget for buying locally-made military hardware and notifying a list of weapons/equipment that cannot be imported, the government had announced a raft of measures to boost self reliance in the defence sector in May 2020.

Singh said the embargo on imports would be progressively implemented between 2020 and 2024. “Our aim is to apprise the Indian defence industry about the anticipated requirements of the armed forces so that they are better prepared to realise the goal of indigenization,” he said.

The list of weapons banned for import will be reviewed every year and more items will be added to it after discussions with the department of military affairs (DMA). This implies India will have to compulsorily develop technology for the defence systems and platforms figuring on the negative import list.

“More such equipment for import embargo would be identified progressively by the DMA in consultation with all stakeholders. A due note of this will also be made in the Defence Acquisition Procedure to ensure that no item in the negative list is processed for import in the future,” the minister said.

The list has been prepared by the ministry after several rounds of consultations with all stakeholders, including the military and the industry, and factoring in future capabilities of the defence sector to locally manufacture equipment and ammunition.

“Almost 260 schemes of such items were contracted by the Tri-Services at an approximate cost of Rs 3.5 lakh crore between April 2015 and August 2020. It is estimated that contracts worth almost Rs 4 lakh crore will be placed upon the domestic industry within the next 6 to 7 years,” Singh said.

One of the key responsibilities assigned by the government to the DMA, headed by chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, is to promote the use of indigenous military equipment in the armed forces.

Imports account for 60-65% of the country’s military requirements and it has signed contracts worth billions of dollars during the last decade for weapons and systems including fighter jets, air defence missile systems, submarine hunter planes, attack helicopters, heavy-lift choppers and lightweight howitzers.

India was the third-biggest military spender in the world last year after the United States and China, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report released in April.