Prime Minister calls for greater autonomy and praises the armed forces for promoting the vision | Latest India News

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi made special mention of the deployment of an indigenous artillery gun during the Independence Day ceremony as he called for empowerment in different sectors while setting the roadmap for India’s growth and development over the next 25 years when the country marks the centenary of its independence, although he praised the armed forces for supporting the vision of Aatmanirbharta (self-reliance).

For the first time on Monday, a prototype of the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) was used for the ceremonial 21-gun salute, along with British guns traditionally used for the event. The howitzer was designed and developed under the government’s Make in India initiative aimed at strengthening the defense manufacturing sector in the country.

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“How long can we be dependent on others?” the Prime Minister asked while addressing the country on the 76th Independence Day.

In his 80-minute speech, Modi said “self-reliant India” was not a government program, but a mass movement that society needed to push forward. “It is the responsibility of the government, of every citizen and of every unit of society.”

The Prime Minister also invoked the Indian nationalist and philosopher Aurobindo, born on August 15, to convey the message of autonomy. “As we celebrate Aurobindoji’s birthday, let’s make sure to follow his mantra ‘Swadeshi se Swaraj, Swaraj se Suraaj’,” Modi said. It refers to the practice of boycotting foreign-made goods and using domestically-made ones, popularly called the Swadeshi movement, and believed by many to be one of the paths to independence from the autonomy (Swaraj). Suraaj stands for good governance.

The Prime Minister hailed armed forces personnel for advancing Aatmanirbhar Bharat’s vision while mentioning the government’s progressive ban on the import of 310 different weapons and systems over the past two years. These weapons and platforms will be indigenized in phases over the next five to six years.

The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) started the ATAGS project in 2013 to replace old guns with a modern 155mm artillery gun. It partnered with two private companies, Bharat Forge Limited and Tata Advanced Systems Limited, to manufacture the gun, which has a firing range of 48 km.

Armed forces personnel took responsibility for Aatmanirbhar Bharat and “unhein jitna salute karoon, utna kamm hai (no respect is too much for them),” the prime minister said.

Self-reliance is the starting point for India to become a regional or global power, said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (ret.), director general of the Center for Air Power Studies. “The defense production ecosystem is finally taking off, with domestically manufactured planes, ships, tanks and guns,” Chopra added.

The military equipment sought to indigenize covers light tanks, naval utility helicopters, artillery guns, missiles, floating munitions, missile destroyers, ship-borne cruise missiles, light combat aircraft , light transport aircraft, long-range land attack cruise missiles, training aircraft, multi-barrel rocket launchers, assault rifles, sniper rifles, certain types of helicopters and airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) systems.

In July, Modi said the goal of achieving self-reliance in defense was essential for the country in the 21st century, and that innovative indigenous solutions were important for future challenges.

India’s military imports fell by 21% between 2012-16 and 2017-21, according to a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) in March. The country’s defense exports hit the Rs 13,000 crore mark in 2021-22, with the private sector’s share pegged at 70%, according to data from the Ministry of Defence.

The government has reserved 84,598 crores, 68% of the army’s capital acquisition budget, for the purchase of locally produced weapons and systems in 2022-23. Ammunition import substitution, which is a recurring requirement, is a top priority for the government.