Wait For Strategic Partnership Policy For Defence Manufacturing To End Soon, Announcement Likely This Month : Sources

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The New Look Strategic Partnership Policy document on Defence Manufacturing, likely to be released anytime soon, will encourage competition and fulfill the objective of turning India into a global defence manufacturing hub in line with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative.

All major defence programs for the Indian armed forces — be it for the fighter aircrafts, land systems or the submarines, will involve participation of an Indian company along with a foreign vendor or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)–ready to transfer technology and meets the laid out parameters of the government of manufacturing defence systems in India.

The selection of the Indian partner will be done through the competition route and between companies who meet a set of laid out criteria. Similarly, there could be more than one foreign OEMs for every program. “The best amongst those in the fray will be selected in line with the laid parameters and through competition as opposed to nomination,” said a senior government official.

“A list of criteria is mentioned in the policy and will have to be met by Indian companies and foreign OEMs keen to participate as SPs in building these defence programs …… and all those who meet the criteria will have to compete for every single defence program,” the official added.

Sources said that after assuming charge of the defence ministry on March 13, defence minister Arun Jaitley had asked his lieutenants to “ensure” that the SP policy document should be one that encourages “competition and is in line with government’s Make in India initiative of turning the nation into a global manufacturing hub for defence production.”

Job creation and manufacturing are at the focus of this policy. The major defence programs for which SP’s will be selected includes aircraft, helicopters, submarines, warships, artillery guns and armoured vehicles.

Sources within the defence ministry said the policy blueprint was ready and a possible announcement was possible in the next 10-15 days.

Asked if the SP policy document that was finalised under former defence minister Manohar Parrikar has been tweaked in line with the doubts expressed by a section of the defence industry (both public and private) over nomination of partners for strategic defence programs, the official said, “the ministry is working out a model that will find `acceptance’ across the industry and is in line with Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative.”

Whether the policy came up for discussion at the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting on Monday—the first DAC meet after Jaitley took charge as the defence minister on March 13, a senior MoD official said, “Discussions are an ongoing process and this policy is no exception.”

The official went on to add in a lighter vein that “let not bureaucracy be blamed all the time for delays…we are working out a suitable policy, details of which will be soon known to all.”

Asked if changes to the policy have been finalised, the official said, “It’s under process…you will get to know soon.”

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