Mahabalipuram : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday underlined that India is readying itself to show the defence manufacturing capabilities to the world.
Speaking at the 10th edition of Defence Expo 2018 here, Prime Minister Modi said, "For the very first time, India will be showing defence manufacturing capabilities to the world. I am very happy to be here in the land of the great Cholas, who established India's historical civilisation links through trade and education."
He added that his government wanted to establish a strategically independent defence industrial complex soon.
Prime Minister Modi stressed on the commitment of peace and security, adding that it was important to protect the people and territory from external obstacles.
Terming India as the 'land of glorious maritime legacy', the Prime Minister said, "It is wonderful to see that over 500 Indian companies and over 150 foreign companies are here. More than 40 countries have sent their official delegations as well. This is the land from where India Looked East and Acted East thousands of years ago."
He said that India believed in protecting the ideal of humanity and asserted that the message of peace and brotherhood has gone out from the country since the Vedic times.
Throwing light on the recently launched 'Innovation for Defence Excellence' scheme, Prime Minister Modi added, "We will set up defence innovation hubs throughout the country to provide necessary incubation and infrastructure support to start-ups in defence sector."
The Prime Minister further said that the government would establish two defence industrial corridors in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, which will utilise defence manufacturing ecosystems in the regions.
He called the corridors as the engines of economic development and growth of defence industrial base of the country.
Taking a jibe at the previous Congress government on defence prepardness, Prime Minister Modi said, "There was a time when the critical issue of defence preparedness was hampered by policy paralysis. We have seen the damage. Such laziness, incompetence or perhaps some hidden motives, can cause to the nation. Not now, not anymore, never again."
The Prime Minister cited the examples of bullet-proof jackets and procurement of fighter aircraft to drive home his point on policy paralysis during the previous regime.
"The issue of providing bullet proof jackets to Indian soldiers was kept hanging for years. You would have also seen that we have brought the process to a successful conclusion with a contract that will provide a boost to defence manufacturing in India," Prime Minister Modi said.
On procurement of fighter aircraft, he added, "The long-drawn process of procurement of fighter aircraft never reached any conclusion. We have not only taken bold action to meet our immediate critical requirements, but have also initiated a new process to procure 110 fighter aircrafts."
Continuing his tirade against the Congress, the Prime Minister said, "In May 2014, the total number of defence export permission granted stood at 118 for a total value of USD 577 million. In less than four years, we have issued 794 more export permissions for a total value of over USD 1.3 billion."
Prime Minister Modi said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government had undertaken various measures to shore up the defence sector after coming into power in 2014.
"The Defence Procurement Procedure has been revised with many specific provisions for stimulating growth of domestic defence industry. We have also de-notified some items earlier made exclusively by Ordnance Factories, so that private sector, especially Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) can enter this space," he said.
"Over the last few years, we have made a humble beginning. On defence manufacturing licenses, on defence offsets, on defence exports clearances, on Foreign Direct Investment in defence manufacturing, and on reforming our defence procurement, we have taken many steps," the Prime Minister added.
Earlier, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the same occassion said that defence production in the country is the hallmark of the Prime Minister's 'Make In India' initiative.
"50 percent of the expo has Indian manufacturers, which is a first in the history of the defence expo. Defence corridors in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh will be setup as provisioned in the Budget. Offset provisions have been relaxed to attract more foreign investors," she said.
After the address, Prime Ministe Modi, Sitharaman and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E.K. Palaniswami witnessed combat free-fall demonstration by MARCOs (Marine Commando Force).
On that note, a black flag protests was organised by some opposition parties and Tamil outfits of the state. The idea was poposed by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) working president M.K. Stalin.
The protesters, who have been expressing their rage against the Centre for not constituting the Cauvery Management Board (CMB), reached the airport in Alandur area to protest against the Prime Minister's arrival to the city.
However, before Prime Minister Modi touched down in Chennai, some of the demonstrators, including Thamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK) leader Velmurugan, were detained.
On February 16, the court had ordered the Central government to set up the CMB and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) within six weeks, in regards to the Cauvery River water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The non-compliance of the apex court's order of not submitting a draft implementation scheme for sharing Cauvery water between the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry triggered protests across the state.
On Tuesday, some of the protesters were arrested after they tried to stop an Indian Premier League (IPL) match held at Chennai's M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.