The seven defence public units carved out of the mammoth Ordnance Factory Board will become a strong base for India’s military strength in the years ahead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, urging the new entities to make research and innovation an integral part of their work culture.
Under the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” campaign, the goal is to make India “the world’s biggest military power on its own” and develop a modern defence industrial base, said the PM, in a video address at an event to dedicate the seven new defence companies to the nation on the occasion of Vijayadashami. Defence minister Rajnath Singh, national security adviser Ajit Doval and the military brass, among others, attended the event.
“Today, there is more transparency, trust and a technology-driven approach in the country’s defence sector than ever before. For the first time after Independence, so many major reforms are taking place in our defence sector and instead of stagnant policies, a single-window system has been arranged,” the PM said, noting that the OFB reform was pending for the last 15-20 years.
The OFB was dissolved on October 1, with its 41 factories, assets, employees and management being transferred to the seven new 100% government-owned companies in accordance with the Cabinet decision to corporatise the entity.
The restructuring is designed to make the seven PSUs functionally autonomous, more productive and cost-efficient as the main suppliers of arms, ammunition and clothing to the 15-lakh strong armed forces.
“You (the seven companies) not only have to match the world’s biggest companies, but also take the lead in future technology… become global brands. Competitive costs are our strength, quality and reliability should also become our identity,” said Modi.
The new companies, with an order book of over Rs 65,000 crore, will also play an important role in import substitution. “I will also tell start-ups that they should also be part of this new beginning that the country has started today through these seven companies,” the PM said.
Citing the various reforms undertaken by the government, including the two defence industrial corridors set up in UP and Tamil Nadu, the PM said various Indian companies were now also exploring possibilities in the defence production arena.
“The private sector and the government, together, are moving ahead in the mission to ensure defence of the nation. This is also creating new opportunities for the youth in the country, and opening up new possibilities for many MSMEs in the form of supply chains. As a result of the policy changes in the last five years, our defence exports have increased by more than 325%,” he added.
The world had seen the strength of India’s ordnance factories at the time of World War-I and II. “After Independence, we needed to upgrade these factories, adopt new-age technology. But it was not given much attention. Over time, India became dependent on foreign countries for its strategic and defence needs. These new seven defence companies will play a big role in bringing change in this situation,” the PM said.