Making arms in India? Examining New Delhi’s renewed drive for defence-industrial indigenization

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    When it comes to states arming themselves, it has become axiomatic among scholars of comparative defence industries that go-it-alone production is no longer an option for most. The processes associated with defence-industrial globalization combined with the ever-rising costs of producing leading-edge weapons systems present huge disincentives for autarky in armaments. Against these strong headwinds, however, India has recently launched, as part of a broader, multi-sector initiative called Make in India, a renewed effort to achieve greater self-reliance in armaments production. This article first places India’s recent defence indigenization efforts within wider discussions about states’ armament strategies and trends in global arms production. Secondly, it contextualizes the drivers behind New Delhi’s latest attempts to transform itself from leading arms importer to major producer (and significant exporter) against the backdrop of past efforts which have yielded little but disappointment. Third, it explicates the main facets of the current strategy for defence-industrial indigenization and gauges its chances for success. To preview the main findings, we argue that self-reliance in armaments via indigenous production will almost certainly continue to allude India because of systemic, structural and technological constraints.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)353-372
    Number of pages20
    JournalDefence Studies
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2 Oct 2019


    • arms exports
    • arms production
    • autarky
    • defence industry
    • defence-industrial strategy
    • India
    • Make in India
    • self-reliance


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