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India bans import of drones

  • Published
    10th Feb, 2022

The government recently banned the import of drones with immediate effect, except for research and development, defence and security purposes.

Why such a move?

  • Drone market:
    • 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.

About Drone:

  • Drone is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA).There are three subsets of Unmanned Aircraft-
    • Remotely Piloted Aircraft
    • Autonomous Aircraft
    • Model 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.
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