Modi eyes arms export tag in ‘Made in India’ push

Narendra Modi REUTERS/Altaf Hussain
Narendra Modi REUTERS/Altaf Hussain

India is targeting defence exports worth $5 billion in the next five years in a bid to boost local manufacturing, prime minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday (5).

The country is the world’s second-largest arms importer after Saudi Arabia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, but Modi wants to turn that around under an ambitious “Made in India” initiative.

“In the last five years India has made remarkable progress in indigenising the production of military equipment,” Modi said at the opening of a defence fair in Lucknow.

The five-day defence expo — which will include demonstrations of land, naval, air and virtual security systems — is being attended by manufacturers from France, the US and Russia, Delhi’s biggest arms supplier.

India, which last year fought air battles with arch-rival Pakistan over disputed Kashmir, wants to bolster its combat capabilities to counter regional rivals including China.

Last year Indian officials said they were looking to spend $130 billion over five to seven years on defence.

Russia is India’s main weapons supplier.

More than 1,000 firms — including 172 foreign companies — are expected to take part in the exhibition, the defence ministry said in a statement.