Achieving self-reliance in the manufacturing sector is also a big challenge. Although India’s exports reached the historic level of 400 billion dollars in the year 2021-22, but India’s imports are also at the level of five hundred and ninety nine billion dollars this year. That is, there is a trade deficit of one hundred and ninety nine billion dollars.
India’s importance in the global order is increasing in the midst of challenges like the Corona epidemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. But in the midst of these current challenges, now the country can achieve heights only by moving on the path of self-reliance. Now self-reliance should not only be an attractive slogan for India, but it should also be seen to be a reality. One of the major challenges facing the country at the moment is mitigating the risk of external pressures on an economy. For this, the country will have to be self-reliant in various sectors including the defense sector as well as manufacturing, technology development and agricultural production.
Certainly, in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, there is also a lesson for India that India has to make its mark as a strategically powerful country in the world amidst continued defense challenges from China and Pakistan. Significantly, on March 10, lawmakers in the US Congress on Indo-Pacific security said that tensions between India and China on the Line of Actual Control have reached the worst level in four decades. China’s aggression in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region is increasing.
In such a situation, it is necessary for India to strengthen its defense preparedness. Apart from this, in the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security Affairs (CCS) of the Central Government on March 13, instructions were given to give priority to the use of state-of-the-art security technology in the wake of the Russo-Ukraine war and to make India self-reliant in the field of defense production. .
India may have challenging situations in terms of self-reliance in the defense sector, but there is no shortage of resources. The capability of India and Indians in this field is considered to be iron in the world. How far we will have to go for self-reliance in the defense sector, it can be estimated from the latest report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
According to the report, India and Saudi Arabia are at the top in the world in terms of arms purchase. India buys 11 percent of the total global arms. Although our ordnance factories are huge, the share in defense production remains only at 10 per cent. The situation is that even now India is dependent on other countries for the uniforms of soldiers. But it is also important that defense exports from India are also increasing continuously. India ranks twenty four in the world in terms of arms exports. In the year 2019-20, India’s defense exports were nine thousand crore rupees. A target has been set to increase it to thirty five thousand crore rupees by 2024-25.
It is also a satisfactory thing that India’s defense budget is continuously increasing. This time Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 5.15 lakh crore for the defense sector in the general budget. This budget is forty seven thousand crores more than the previous year. Since India’s defense technical experts have acquired a range of skills, India can move rapidly towards becoming self-reliant to meet the needs of the defense sector, including fighter jets.
Achieving self-reliance in the manufacturing sector is also a big challenge. Although India’s exports reached the historic level of 400 billion dollars in the year 2021-22, but India’s imports are also at the level of five hundred and ninety nine billion dollars this year. That is, there is a trade deficit of one hundred and ninety nine billion dollars. If we analyze the new data on product exports, we find that despite the supply challenges, on an average, in the fiscal year 2021-22, exporters exported products worth more than thirty three billion dollars every month.
Especially petroleum products, electronic and engineering products, leather, coffee, plastics, apparel, meat, milk products, marine products and tobacco etc. have played an important role in increasing exports. With the increase in exports of engineering goods, apparel etc., the perception that India is a major exporter of primary commodities is also changing. Now India is also exporting more and more value added and high quality goods.
In order to reduce the trade deficit of the country, many provisions were made in the budget of 2022-23. Significantly, the Finance Minister had talked about changing the present form of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the budget. Manufacturing will be expedited for both domestic and international markets by fully utilizing the resources available in the SEZ. While the success of the Production Linked Special Incentive (PLI) scheme will enable alternatives to import raw materials from China, exports of industrial products will also increase.
The pharmaceutical, mobile, medical device, vehicle and power industries in the country are still largely dependent on imported raw materials from China. The government has extended the PLI scheme for thirteen industrial sectors with incentives of about two lakh crore rupees from November 2020 under the self-reliant India campaign. In the budget of the year 2022-23 also, incentives have been ensured for the PLI scheme. Undoubtedly, the new role of Special Economic Zones in the country, the success of the Make in India campaign and the vigorous implementation of the PLI scheme are necessary.
Record food grain production and its export can certainly become the new economic power of the country. But the challenge of self-reliance in the pulses and oilseeds sector is in front. At present, about 60 percent of the total requirement of edible oil in the country is imported. In such a situation, more efforts will have to be made to advance the agriculture sector. Only then the country will have a safe stock of food grains and agricultural exports can be increased to many countries of the world. Self-sufficiency in the production of pulses and oilseeds as well as edible oil will have to be given high priority under the agriculture sector in the country.
Now let’s talk about the energy sector. In the energy sector also, the country will have to work fast for self-reliance. On the one hand, where crude oil production will have to be increased in the country, alternatives to crude oil will also have to be explored. The country needs about five million barrels of petroleum products daily. Since India imports about eighty-five percent of its crude oil requirement. About 60 percent of this import comes from the Gulf countries of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates etc.
Oil companies will have to increase their interest in the ethanol blending program amid rising global crude oil prices. It is known that the country has huge oil reserves of about three hundred billion barrels, but we are not able to exploit them enough. Crude oil can be exploited only at a cost of four-five times less than the current prices of crude oil in the global market. Apart from this, the use of electric vehicles will also have to be promoted in the country. Innovative industries can play a big role in this direction. In such a situation, the goal of becoming self-reliant in the midst of current challenges and crises should be seen as an opportunity.