Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday highlighted the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic that has disrupted businesses globally and said that Indo-US cooperation would go a long way in boosting “economic dynamism.”
“Covid-19 pandemic has brought newer challenges in terms of disruption of supply chains, downturn in industrial activities, negative growth in travel and tourism industry and there is no doubt Indo-US cooperation will go a long way to restore normalcy and further boost economic dynamism,” Singh said.
He was speaking at the Indo-US Economic Summit organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.
Singh said various measures taken by the government had helped put economic activities back on track, and the first quarter of the year recorded a 20% growth compared to a 24% contraction last year.
He said the recovery was a sign of India’s “sound economic fundamentals.” The minister said the country was preparing for “dynamic growth” not just in the financial year 2022 but through the entire decade.
“Over the last 100 months, the government has brought many major structural and procedural reforms which have prepared India to make a quantum jump in terms of growth in this decade,” Singh said, enumerating the steps taken by the government to boost the Make in India initiative, enhance ease of doing business and to make the country an investor-friendly destination.
Red tape has given way to red carpet, the minister said, inviting the US industry to participate in the government’s vision of “Make in India and make for the world.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India was shedding its image of being a major importer of military hardware and carving an identity for itself as a defence exporter. Modi said the world had taken note of the strides made by the country in defence manufacturing with locally produced equipment ranging from modern grenades, assault rifles and drones to fighter jets and warships.
“We have formulated progressive and investor friendly tax policies. We have said goodbye to retrospective taxation and corrected the mistake of previous governments,” the defence minister said. Talking about labour reforms, he said dozens of laws had been compressed into four sets of codes.
Singh said the government’s decision to notify two lists of 209 defence items that cannot be imported (ban to be implemented progressively from 2021 to 2025) would boost business opportunities. “It may appear that this list will reduce business opportunities for the world. But I want to make it clear, that this list is actually an invitation to increase business collaboration,” the minister said.
The items that cannot be imported include AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) systems, light combat aircraft, missile destroyers, ship-borne cruise missiles, long-range land attack cruise missiles, basic trainer aircraft, different types of helicopters and artillery guns.
Singh said foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can set up manufacturing facilities on their own or forge partnerships with Indian companies through joint ventures or technology agreements to capitalise on the Make in India opportunity.
“There is a lot of scope for the American and Indian defence industries for co-production and co-development. Indian industry can also supply components to the American industry,” he said. The Indo-US bilateral relationship had made good progress during the last five to seven years, he added.