In order to materialize the concept of self-reliant India at the level of military-manufacturing, the Ministry of Defense has recently announced a ban on the import of 101 defense equipment, weapons, vehicles etc. by 2024. With this initiative, the domestic defense industry will get contracts worth about four lakh crore rupees in the next five-seven years.
The commitment to make India a defense manufacturing center is also seen in the draft Defense Production Policy-2018 of the country, which aims to raise the defense industry to a level of $ 26 billion by 2025 and export of five billion defense products.
But a deep gap exists between these ideological commitments and the realities of defense manufacturing. India still imports 60 percent of its defense needs. It is the second-largest arms importer country in the world.
In fact, the role of the Air Force in the contemporary combat system is crucial. Our strength of our Air Force depends on the Sukhoi-30 of Russia, the Mirage-2000 of France, the Jaguar of Britain, the MiG-21 of Russia and the indigenous Tejas Mark-One.
At one time, MiG-21 fighter aircraft were considered to be the backbone of our Air Force, but due to old technology, the crashed MiG-21 is now called 'flying coffin'. At one time India had 872 MiG-21 fighter aircraft, but today only a few dozen of them are active. There is a dire need to retire as well.
Today, when the world's largest powers have a fifth-generation fighter aircraft, Rafale's supply to India is also going to give immediate comfort. We will soon have to develop Tejas Mark-2 (fifth generation version) fighter aircraft because Rafale is not even a hundred percent fifth-generation fighter aircraft. Fifth-generation fighter aircraft are state-of-the-art, far from the grip of any radar and sensor.
Actually, in order to meet the defense challenges in a rapidly changing world, we need to emphasize research. Right now India is spending very little of its GDP on research. It needs to be increased further. With this, we also have to give up the tendency to see indigenous weapons in doubt.
If an autonomous work culture and resources are obtained on the lines of ISRO scientists, then DRDO scientists can also be successful in making world-class defense materials.
The manner in which the Indian leadership has demonstrated strong will power at the diplomatic level during the current standoff with China, will also create a warlike moral enthusiasm among the country's scientists for defense manufacturing.