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New Delhi, May 1, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for promoting self-reliance in defence equipment manufacturing and also in mineral production and processing to boost economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 phase.
The Prime Minister held separate meetings on the scope of reforms in the defence manufacturing industry and in the mines and coal sectors here yesterday.
The meeting on defence deliberated on the potential reforms to ensure a robust and self-reliant defence industry in India that cater to short and long term needs of the armed forces.
The discussions covered bringing reforms to the functioning of the ordnance factories, streamlining procurement procedures, focused resource allocation, encouraging R&D/innovation, attracting investment in critical defence technologies and promotion of exports.
Modi laid emphasis on positioning India among the top countries of the world in the defence and aerospace sectors, from design to production, with the active participation of public and private sector fulfilling the twin objectives of self-reliance and exports. He reviewed the proposed reforms for attracting domestic and foreign investment in the defence sector.
The meeting felt that defence expenditure should be economized and the savings be channelised for strategic defence capital acquisition. Issues relating to defence procurement processes, offset policies, indigenization of spares, transfer of technology, attracting global OEMs to establish manufacturing facilities in India, expanding India's presence in international supply chains, and so on, were also deliberated.
For India to emerge as a global leader in defence manufacturing, focus on the export of quality and state-of-the-art equipment, systems and platforms was emphasised at the meeting.
Modi directed that India should reduce dependence on imports and take forward "Make in India" to build its domestic capabilities for designing, developing and manufacturing state-of-the-art defence equipment. He emphasized on initiatives to promote export of defence products along with industry participation in global defence product value chain and to create an environment that encourages R&D, rewards innovation and creates Indian IP ownership.
The meeting was attended by the Defence Minister, the Home Minister, the Finance Minister and Minister of State for Finance along with senior officials of the Union Government.
At the Coal & Mining sector meeting, the discussions involved ensuring easy and abundant availability of mineral resources from domestic sources, upscaling exploration, attracting investment and modern technology, to generate large scale employment through transparent and efficient processes.
Auctioning of additional blocks, encouraging wider participation in auctions, increasing the production of mineral resources, reducing the cost of mining and cost of transporting, increasing ease of doing business while also reducing carbon footprint with environmentally sustainable development also formed an important part of the discussions.
The issues related to reforms in auction structure, efficient institutional arrangements, participation of private sector in exploration and mining, making public sector more competitive as well as broad basing the community development activities through the Mineral Development Fund was also deliberated. Expanding and improving evacuation infrastructure for minerals including use of sea-routes for domestic supplies was also considered.
The aspects related to increasing the efficient and environmentally sound first-mile connectivity for coal transport from mines to railway sliding, automatic loading on rail wagons, coal gasification and liquification, coal bed methane exploration was also discussed for potential reforms.
Modi reviewed the contribution of the mines sector in increasing employment opportunities and boosting growth. He laid special emphasis on improving the country's self-reliance in production of minerals and setting up of indigenous processing facilities.
The mineral sector should benchmark its operations to international standards and prepare an action plan. Apart from using modern technologies for efficient mining, it should also aim for reducing delays in obtaining clearances and partnering with states to facilitate an increase in private investment to boost the economy. Thermal coal import substitution could be tried out particularly when a huge coal stock inventory was available this year, he added.