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How France is ready to help India diversify from Russia?

  • Published
    24th Jan, 2023
Context

Asserting that France could help India to diversify its defence supplies amid a heavy dependence on Russia, the French Ambassador to New Delhi has clarified their intention to partner with India on critical projects including possible nuclear-powered submarines. 

Background
  • India began to import weapons from Russia in the
  • The Ilyushin Il-14 cargo transport aircraft were the first ones to be inducted into the Indian inventory, followed by the MiG-21 fighter aircraft.
  • From 1962 onwards, there has been a steady increase in India’s import dependence on Russia.
  • The legacy still leaves India with a sizeable number of Soviet-built platforms and in the post-Cold War period, India has made several sizeable acquisitions.

About India’s defence equipment and scenario:

  • India’s requirements on defence are catered largely by imports.
  • The opening of the Defence sector for private sector participation will help foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to enter into strategic partnerships with Indian companies.
  • This will enable them to leverage the domestic markets as well as aim at global markets. Besides helping in building domestic capabilities, it will also bolster exports in the long term.
  • Since 2014 the Ministry of Defence has signed more than 180 contracts with the Indian Industry, as of December 2019. These contracts were valued at over USD 25.8 Bn approximately.
  • Favourable government policy which promotes self-reliance, indigenisation, and technology upgradation.
  • The policies also aim at achieving economies of scale, including the development of capabilities, for exports in the defence sector.
  • India’s extensive modernisation plans with an increased focus on homeland security and growing attractiveness as a defence sourcing hub.

Why has India remained dependent on Russia for so long?

  • Russia is the second largest arms exporter in the world, following only the United States.
  • In the five-year period between 2016 and 2020 America’s share in the global arms trade was 37 per cent, compared to 20 per cent of Russia’s, as per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks the global arms trade and military expenditure.
  • For Russia, India is the largest importer, and for India, Russia is the largest exporter when it comes to arms transfer.
  • Between 2000 and 2020, Russia accounted for 66.5 per cent of India’s arms imports. Of the $53.85 billion spent by India during the period on arms imports, $35.82 billion went to Russia.
  • During the same period, imports from the US were worth $4.4 billion, and from Israel, it was worth US$ 4.1 billion.

India is still in talks with Russia to lease two nuclear-ballistic submarines, Chakra 3 and Chakra 4, the first of which is expected to be delivered by 2025.

Why India needs an alternate?

  • Heavenly dependent on Russian Imports for defence equipment: According to a report, India’s 85% of defence equipment is brought from Russia.
  • Russia’s expansionist policy: Russia’s war with Ukraine has shown many supply chain disruptions which led India to rethink its imports with Russia.
  • Russia and China ties: Russia’s increasing closeness with China has led India to find a way to less depend on Russia.
  • Expanding Indigenous defence manufacturing in India: India is on its way to developing its indigenous defence manufacturing. Recently, India commissioned its first indigenously made Submarine INS Vikrant for Indian Navy.

How France can become an alternative?

  • India is looking to diversify its suppliers and obviously, France is a great option, as France has successfully delivered 36 Rafale fighter jets and other systems to India and wants to develop a national-level defence industrial base in India.
  • France can also help India in developing nuclear-powered and nuclear attack submarines just like the Russians, he underlined that the country has a longstanding submarine cooperation with India. 
India-Russia Defence ties:
  • As per Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Russia is the world’s second-largest arms exporter, with a 20% share in the global arms trade between 2016 and 2020, only behind the USA (37%).
  • For India, Russia is the largest exporter. During 2000-20, Russia accounted for 66.5%, the US for 6.9% and Israel for 6.5% of India’s arms imports.
  • India accounted for 23% of Russia’s arms export followed by 18% of China.
  • Ongoing major deals:
  • Five units of S-400 Triumf Air defence system. (First of five units been delivered in December 2021, and deployed at the Air Force base in Punjab.)
  • Manufacturing of around 6 lakh AK-203 rifles at a factory in Amethi.
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