Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said India has now emerged as a defence exporter and has reduced its import by over 21 per cent in the last four to five years. Stressing the need for self-reliance in defence manufacturing, he also said the Indian soldiers will have weapons which the opponent will not even think of.

Underlining these priorities, the Prime Minister said a new defence ecosystem is being developed in India where imports are being brought down and exports are on the rise. Addressing the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) seminar “Swavlamban” here, Modi said, “We developed the habit of being dependent on foreign countries for even the simplest products. Like drug addicts, we were addicted to the products imported from abroad. To change this mindset, we worked on a mission mode after 2014, after learning from the approach of the past, to create a new ecosystem of defence with the help of ‘Sabka Prayas’.”

He said “Atmanirbharta” (self reliance) in defence is very crucial for the India of the 21st century.

“Creating 75 indigenous techs for the Navy by August 15 next year is the first step. The goal should be to take India’s defence to unprecedented heights by the time we celebrate 100 years of Independence,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi said in the last eight years, his Government increased the defence budget and ensured that it is useful in the development of defence manufacturing ecosystem in India. He also complemented the defence forces for preparing a list of 300 items that will not be imported.

On equipping the soldiers with modern weapons, the Prime Minister said, “We have the talent. It’s not smart to let my soldiers go to the field with the same 10 weapons that the world has... I can’t take the risk. My Jawan will have what the opponent won’t even think of...” he said.

Referring to the importance of oceans and coasts in India’s economy, the Prime Minister said the role of the Indian Navy is continuously increasing and therefore self-reliance of the Navy is of critical importance.

The Prime Minister noted that now the threats to national security have also become widespread, the methods of warfare are also changing.

Modi also unveiled ‘SPRINT Challenges’, which are aimed at giving a boost to the usage of indigenous technology in the Indian Navy. As a part of the “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”, the NIIO, in conjunction with the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO), aims at inducting at least 75 new indigenous technologies into the Indian Navy. This collaborative project is named SPRINT (Supporting Pole-Vaulting in R&D through iDEX, NIIO and TDAC).

Earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said under “Aatmanirbhar Abhiyaan”, the Navy spent over 64 per cent of its capital budget for domestic procurement in the last financial year and this year it’ll increase up to 70 per cent.