The government recently banned the import of drones with immediate effect, except for research and development, defence and security purposes.
Why such a move?
According to a July 2021 report by BIS Research, the global drone market, which is currently dominated by the US, China and Israel, is estimated to reach US$ 28.47 billion in FY21-22, with India likely to account for 4.25% share.
India’s drone market could grow to INR 500 billion (US$6.8 billion) in the next five years.
Promotion to domestic manufacturing: The move aims to promote made in India drones. The ban will not apply to the import of drone parts.
Drone is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA).There are three subsets of Unmanned Aircraft-
Remotely Piloted Aircraft
Remotely Piloted Aircraft consists of remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components, as specified in the type design.
Remotely piloted aircraft have been divided into five categories based on their weight (existing rules)-
Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams
Micro: From 250 grams to 2kg
Small: From 2 kg to 25kg
Medium: From 25kg to 150kg
Large: Greater than 150kg
Steps to boost domestic manufacturing of drones:
Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme: The PLI scheme, which was launched in August 2021, envisages an outlay of Rs. 120 crore spread over three years for drone manufactures.
The PLI scheme for drones and drone components liberalizes the minimum value addition criteria to 40 percent of net sales, a relief to the sunrise sector.
The scheme also covers developers of drone-related IT products.
Liberalising drone operation rules: Realising the immense potential of drones, the Indian Government released ‘Drone Rules, 2021’, which comprised major upgrades of the existing drone norms.
The new policy is an improvised version of the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules 2021.
Relevant Budget 2022 announcement: The Union Budget 2022-23 reiterated that the liberalized regulatory framework and manufacturing incentives aim to promote the indigenization of drone technology in India, whose applications and use are expected to cater to a cross-section of industries. The central government has identified drone technology and its applications as a sunrise sector.
Import ban announced by DGFT to promote domestic drone manufacturing.