The Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make In India initiatives have brought about a significant change and has provided a boost to indigenous defence production

New Delhi: For several decades, India’s defence production did not have too much to write home about. Although the DRDO had achieved considerable success in coming up with a host of formidable missiles, the Indian defence sector struggled to produce even something as basic as a decent assault rifle.

However, the Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make In India initiatives have brought about a significant change and have provided a boost to indigenous defence production.

The Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rolled out a host of policies to promote self-reliance in the field of defence production.

The Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative has helped India transform from being an importer of weapons and defence related equipment to an exporter.

India’s defence export touched record heights and hit a record Rs 14,000 crore – its highest ever – up from Rs 900 crore in 2014.

The defence ministry has revealed that the issuance of positive indigenisation lists of over 3,700 items including components/Line Replacement Units for DPSUs and 310 other defence-related items have been issued as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.

Some of the major initiatives that are pushing indigenisation of India’s defence sector include the launch of Mission DefSpace, the launch of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) scheme involving start-ups & Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), the indigenisation portal SRIJAN and more.

Mission DefSpace

Mission DefSpace, India’s Space Defence initiative, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during DefExpo 2022. The goal of the Mission DefSpace programme is to promote India’s preparation for future space missions.

The Mission DefSpace initiative was launched along with 75 Defence Space Challenges that have been categorised into existing DDP initiatives of iDEX, Make-I and Make-2.

The challenges in this sector have been grouped into five categories — Launch System, Satellite System, Communication & Payload System, Ground System, and Software System — this providing a comprehensive overview of space missions.

The budget allocation to this particular space sector has been increasing each year. Mentioning the budget allocation for the year 2022 – the Department of Space has been allocated a whopping Rs 13,700 crores in the annual budget, Rs 7,456.60 crores of which is earmarked for capital expenditure.

Innovations For Defence Excellence (iDEX)

The government introduced the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework with the goal of fostering innovation and technology development in the defence and aerospace sector by involving industries such as MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes, and academia and encouraging self-reliance.

The government has approved a central sector scheme for the iDEX initiative with a budget of Rs 498.78 crore for the period 2021–2022 to 2025–2026.


The Ministry of Defence had launched the SRIJAN Portal of Department of Defence Production in 2020 to provide access to vendors and help them take up items for indigenization.

Defence Industrial Corridors

To promote self-reliance in defence production in line with the Make In India initiative, the central government has developed two Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs). One of these is in Uttar Pradesh the other is in Tamil Nadu.

Through these DICs, the government wants to create a defence manufacturing ecosystem with favourable conditions. The intention is to have a strong supply chain for boosting production and testing and certification to foster economies of scale and the growth of globally competitive businesses in the nation.

According data for July 2022 released by the defence ministry, Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), the nodal agency for Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor (UPDIC) had signed 69 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with a potential investment amounting to Rs 10,545 crore.

All the major sectors of India’s domestic defence industry have benefited from these government initiatives. These initiatives place a strong emphasis on indigenization of defence production and procurement from the domestic sector.