Defence Indigenisation

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, Defence Minister has released the fifth Positive Indigenisation List (PIL) of 98 items. The list outlines items that will be procured by the three-armed services from indigenous suppliers.
  • Items on the list include a futuristic infantry combat vehicle, unmanned aerial vehicles, precision kill systems, radars, and more.
  • The Department of Military Affairs prepared the list after consultations with stakeholders.

More about the news

  • At the Swavlamban 2.0 seminar of the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO), 76 challenges were launched for industry players.
  • These challenges are part of the 10th Defence India Start-up Challenges (DISC-10) and the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiatives.

Navy’s Commitment to Self-Reliance

  • Navy Chief Admiral emphasized the Navy’s commitment to becoming fully self-reliant by 2047.
  • The Navy had set a target to develop 75 futuristic technologies in partnership with domestic micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and startups, surpassing the target with successful initiatives like SPRINT.
Indigenization of Defence


  • Indigenization aims to develop and produce defense equipment within the country to achieve self-reliance and reduce imports.
  • Self-reliance in defense manufacturing is a key objective.
  • DRDO, DPSUs, OFB, and private organizations play a critical role in indigenization.



  • India shifted from license-based production to indigenous design due to overdependence on the Soviet Union.
  • R&D investments began in the mid-1980s.


Significant steps taken in defense indigenization

  • In 1983, Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) initiated to develop missile systems.
  • In 1990, Self-Reliance Review Committee set targets for self-reliance index (SRI) to increase from 30% to 70% by 2005.
  • Focus shifted to co-development and co-production with foreign partners.
  • Partnerships with countries like Russia, Israel, and France for various projects.


Why Indigenization

  • Reducing Fiscal Deficit: India is a major arms importer. India procures 60% of its weapon systems from foreign markets despite having a large defense budget.
  • Export Potential: India can export indigenous defense technology to neighboring nations.
  • Security Imperative: Indigenization is crucial for national security, maintaining technological expertise, and fostering innovation.
  • Addressing Threats: A self-reliant defense industry helps counter threats like ceasefire violations and attacks.
  • Employment Generation: Defense manufacturing leads to job creation.
  • Strategic Capability: Self-sufficiency in defense elevates India’s global standing.
  • Nationalism and Patriotism: Indigenous production boosts trust and confidence in the military.


Government Initiatives

  • Defense Procurement Policy emphasizes “Buy Indian-IDDM” (Indigenously Designed, Developed, and Manufactured) as the preferred way of acquiring defense goods.
  • Defense Acquisition Council can take a “fast-track” route for weapons procurement.
  • E-Biz Portal streamlines industrial license application.
  • Outsourcing and Vendor Development Guidelines promote private sector participation.
  • Uniform custom duty ensures a level playing field.
  • FDIpolicy in the defense sector which allows the FDI through automatic approval is increased from 49% to 74%.
  • Preference to ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ & ‘Make’ categories in procurement.


Present Scenario

  • INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier.
  • Development of indigenous Tejas aircraft.
  • Project 75 initiated to build six advanced stealth submarines in collaboration with countries like France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Spain, and Japan.
  • Indigenous long-range artillery gun “Dhanush” with 38-kilometer strike range.
  • Arihant, India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine.
  • India’s ICBM status achieved with AGNI V.
  • Indigenous missile systems like Dhanush, Nirbhaya, Prithvi, Akash, and the Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher.
  • Supersonic Cruise Missile BRAHMOS, a Joint Venture between India and Russia.
  • Arjun Tank, a third-generation main battle tank developed by DRDO, with efforts to reduce weight through composites.



  • Inefficiency, productivity issues, and low R&D.
  • Delays and cost-overruns in projects like Battle Tank Arjun and LCA Tejas.
  • Lack of military inputs in decision-making.
  • Absence of a National Security Doctrine and long-term defense planning.
  • Lack of institutional capacity and capability to effectively implement indigenization policies.
  • The absence of a permanent arbitration committee for expeditious dispute resolution, as seen in the USA’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
  • Inadequate infrastructure increases logistics costs, reducing cost competitiveness and efficiency.
  • Challenges in acquiring land hinder new players’ entry into defense manufacturing.


Way Forward

  • Establish a permanent arbitration cell to handle objections and disputes.
  • Encourage the private sector’s involvement to bring in technology and human capital for indigenous defense modernization.
  • Allocate substantial contracts to the private sector to boost confidence and reduce trust deficits.
  • Ensure fairness between the private industry, DRDO, DPSUs, and OFB.
  • Weapons systems must first be in service with the armed forces to achieve export capability.
  • Leverage the software industry and technologies like AI and cyber security for indigenous chip manufacturing.
  • Provide financial and administrative autonomy to DRDO to enhance confidence and authority.
  • Train and offer longer tenures to staff at the Department of Defense Production for continuity.
  • Structure investee/joint venture companies to be self-sufficient in product design and development, including maintenance and life cycle support.
  • Improve in-house design capabilities among the three services, similar to the Naval Design Bureau’s success in the Navy.
  • Develop a strong supply chain for optimizing costs.
  • Recognize the role of Indian SMEs in the global supply chain of OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers).
  • Implement the concept of 5 Is (Identify, Incubate, Innovate, Integrate, and Indigenise) for accelerated progress and cost reduction in defense procurement.

Signup for newsletter

Receive notifications straight into your inbox

Leave a comment