VASCO: Outlining the Centre’s vision for defence public sector units (DPSUs), on Thursday urged DPSUs to tap the potential for export of military equipment, including warships, while continuing to cater to the needs of the Indian Armed Forces.

Sitharaman said, southeast Asian countries, with whom India has friendly bilateral ties, were keen to purchase military equipment from India instead of turning to western defence contractors.

“I want not just Goa Shipyard, but every defence public sector unit to look at themselves as manufacturers of international class. Don’t just depend on your captive market which is the defence forces but look at the world as the market that you can reach out to,” Sitharaman said at the launch of a Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel at Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL).

The ministries of external affairs, commerce and defence were willing to assist DPSUs who participate in global military equipment tenders and to also facilitate export of military equipment to friendly nations.

“It only takes for you to negotiate with the ministry of defence and the ministry of external affairs to ensure that your products are accessible to other nations,” Sitharaman said. As she drew GSL’s attention to the immense potential for export orders that exist with militaries outside India, Sitharaman asked GSL to prepare an export blueprint which would make the Vasco-based shipyard competitive in the global defence manufacturing sector.

“Goa Shipyard has proved that they are as good as private sector and it proves the public sector does not have to be one step lower, does not require patronage, but has to be treated on par with everybody else,” she said.

The minister’s statements are in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative. Sitharaman said neighbouring nations were convinced of the capability of Indian shipyards as proved by the export of two advanced off-shore patrol vessels to Sri Lanka, two fast patrol vessels and 11 fast interceptor crafts to Mauritius by GSL.

“The Prime Minister wants to see India as a hub for manufacturing defence products, not just for our armed forces but also for exports. Come with a scheme and I will be with you to help you prepare a futuristic vision,” Sitharaman said.

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