India to ban imports of 101 items of military equipment

New Delhi: India will ban the imports of 101 items of military equipment in an effort to boost indigenous production and improve self-reliance in weapons manufacturing.

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Sunday that the government is planning to progressively implement the embargo on select military imports between this year and 2024. The list hasn’t been disclosed publicly.

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“Our aim is to apprise the Indian defence industry about the anticipated requirements of the Armed Forces so that they are better prepared to realise the goal of indigenisation,” Singh wrote on Twitter. “This is a big step towards self-reliance in defence.”

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In May, India announced that global companies could invest up to 74 per cent in the country’s defence manufacturing units, up from 49 per cent, without requiring any government approval, hoping that the new policy will attract foreign companies with high-end technologies to set up their bases in the country in collaboration with local industries.

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The government had then announced that India will stop importing weapons that can be made domestically, in line with the vision to make the Indian economy self-reliant amid the coronavirus crisis.

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India, a major buyer of military equipment, had depended largely on the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. But it has been diversifying its purchases by opting for US equipment as well.

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During President Donald Trump’s visit in February, the two countries signed a deal for India to buy more than $3 billion in advanced military equipment, including helicopters.

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India was the third-biggest military spender in the world last year after the US and China, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a report released in April.

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