India cannot compromise on its defence preparedness, and given the geopolitical situation, the country ''needs to put all its national resources behind defence preparedness,'' union minister of finance and corporate affairs and defence Arun Jaitley said.
"In the present geopolitical situation, India is located somewhat sensitively, and even in the past, we have faced multiple threats. Hence, preparedness is something that India can never compromise on," he said.
''We need to put our entire national resources behind our defence preparedness,'' Jaitley said while launching the production of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) designed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) on Saturday evening here.
He said India is graduating from being just a buyer of defence equipment to a manufacturer and supplier of weapons and related systems to other countries
''India earlier was always seen as a buyer. Our narrow policies also contributed to this,'' Jaitley said. ''We are now evolving into a major manufacturing hub not only for our own requirements but also for supplying to other countries in the world,'' he said. It is absolutely ''necessary'' for our country to enhance its manufacturing ability, Jaitley said.
''With the experience of our country's public sector undertakings and the entrepreneurship abilities of the private sector, coupled with the size of our market, that international markets can also eye, we need to enhance our manufacturing ability,'' he said.
"Although our defence public sector units have been consistently increasing their competence, we were dependent on the rest of the world for defence equipment and technology, which was ironical given that Indians have had a good share in various areas of growth, especially in technology," he said.
However, he said, there is some silver lining and things are now changing: "R&D units of many companies are shifting to India as we have a powerful human resource, both numerically and in terms of training. Therefore, our ability to produce people who can be world leaders in research and technology would really be second to none," he said.
The country needs to change its mindset to become a manufacturer rhather than remain a buyer of the high-cost defence equipment, he pointed out. "Our narrow policies have contributed to this. We were willing to buy from the rest of the world but somewhat wary of our companies and their abilities to develop products," he said.
"It is now clear that we are systematically moving in a direction to evolve and develop ourselves as a major manufacturer, not only for our requirement but to supply to the other countries."
He said the centre's policy to open the defence sector to private players would go a long way , while hailing HAL's confidence in building Hawk-i and LCH indigenously. "We are moving in the right direction in evolving into a manufacturing hub. Today's experience has been encouraging," he said.