Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign strengthens defense sector amid dispute with China

TOKYO – 13-month standoff between India and China has boosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign, as nationwide ban on military imports bolsters domestic industry armament.

The Indian government last month revealed a new list of 108 military items that must be purchased at home, expanding the blacklist to more than 200 items, from assault rifles to helicopters and radar systems.

This followed a catalog of 101 restricted items released in August of last year. The restrictions will take effect in stages until 2025. The government sees the embargo on arms imports as a way to promote domestic manufacturing as the economy has been hit by the pandemic.

Of course, developments on the Indo-Chinese border are the trigger, ”said Srikanth Kondapalli, professor of international studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.After Pangong Tso’s disengagement in February, no major disengagement took place, let alone a de-escalation process. We do not expect a normalization of bilateral relations in the future, ”Kondapalli added.

The clash between the two armies began in May last year in the disputed region of Ladakh. The following month, a clash ensued that resulted in the first combat deaths between the two sides in 45 years.

Negotiations are underway between India and China to withdraw personnel from the border region, but there has been no significant activity on that front since the last round of talks in April.

Artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport planes, light combat helicopters, and radars were covered by the first list, but May’s list contained entries such as border surveillance systems and battlefield surveillance radar. It further suggests that New Delhi expects the stalemate on the Indochinese border to continue in the long term.

The restrictions have already supported the national defense industry. The government approved the purchase of 83 Hindustan Aeronautics fighter jets in January.

The Indian entrepreneur announced last month its partnership with British aerospace engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. About 500 Indian companies are expected to be involved in manufacturing the aircraft.

The Make in India campaign, long promoted by the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeks to revive more than 20 domestic industries. The COVID-19 outbreak in the country has caused the collapse of several manufacturing sectors, but the defense industry will see demand increase following the standoff with China.

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