India Still Unable To Develop Proper Rifle For Armed Forces: Vice Prez

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New Delhi: India still imports 60 per cent of its defence requirement and has not been able to develop a proper rifle for its armed forces, Vice President Hamid Ansari said today, bemoaning the government’s “inadequate” push for research and development.

Mr Ansari’s comments come after an indigenously built rifle “miserably failed” the firing tests conducted by the Army, which is seeking a replacement for the ageing INSAS model. The vice president also said the India devotes only 0.9 per cent of its GDP for scientific research, compared to 2 per cent by China and 2.8 and 4.6 per cent by Germany and Israel respectively.

The number of PhDs in the pure sciences in the country is “abysmally low” and India is “far behind” in the fast-changing world, he said, and questioned why this had gone unattended by several governments.

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After 70 years of independence, we still import 60 per cent of our defence requirements, not kitchen requirements (but) defence requirements,” Mr Ansari said. He added, with apprehension, that India is totally dependent on suppliers and what they would do in “certain conditions”.

“We, to this day, cannot prepare a proper rifle that is used by our army. We have to go and buy rifles outside,” Mr Ansari said.

According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India was the world’s largest importer of major arms in the last five years and its overseas procurement was far greater than that of China and Pakistan.

The report noted that India accounted for 13 per cent of the total global arms imports between 2012 and 2016 — the highest among all countries.

Mr Ansari’s remarks come days after Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Sarath Chand said Pakistan has a better military industrial base and exports more defence equipment than India, as he came down heavily on ordnance factories which manufacture weapons for the forces.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, his deputy Y S Chowdary and Jitendra Singh, the minister of state for the departments of atomic energy and space, were also present at the event. The vice president also highlighted the need to create science consciousness in society.