India seeks more â€˜indigenousâ€™ weapons SOURCE: The Financial Times The government and military chiefs of India, the worldâ€™s biggest arms importer, have called for an accelerated drive to make weapons domestically in order to cut the import bill and increase the countryâ€™s self-reliance as it extends its reach beyond Indian home waters. â€œThereâ€™s significant scope to improve our indigenisation record,â€ Admiral DK Joshi, chief of the naval staff, told delegates to a seminar and exhibition on naval armament in the Indian capital on Thursday. He spoke of â€œour quest for self-reliance in defenceâ€ using public and private sector suppliers. Adm Joshi boasted that of 45 warships and submarines currently under construction â€“ said by defence industry executives to be the largest naval building programme of any country today â€“ 43 were being made locally. But while the hulls are made in India, the costly weapons and propulsion systems for Indian vessels are often imported from western and Russian arms manufacturers. Only about a third of naval weapons are made locally. â€œWe carry the dubious distinction of being the worldâ€™s biggest importer of defence hardware,â€ Adm Joshi told an audience of officials and industry executives from India and abroad. Last year, he had spelt out the extent of Indiaâ€™s ambitions in its rivalry with China when he said India was prepared to send ships to defend its interests in the South China Sea, the disputed waters where Indiaâ€™sOil and Natural Gas Corporation is engaged in exploration off Vietnam. Indiaâ€™s total military expenditure in 2011 â€“ excluding nuclear weapons â€“ amounted to $44.28bn, according to data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In that year it imported an estimated $3.58bn of conventional arms, mostly from Russia. The country already accounts for about a tenth of global arms imports and has plans to increase spending sharply on items such as Rafale fighter aircraft from Franceâ€™s Dassault, and to spend up to $150bn at home and abroad over the next decade on modernising its military equipment. While India has developed weapons locally â€“ including a submarine-launched ballistic missile tested this month â€“ it still depends on foreign suppliers for high-technology equipment and is pressing them to transfer technology and take part in joint ventures if they want a slice of the Indian defence business. â€œForeign equipment manufacturers will have to partner with Indian industry in building Indiaâ€™s navy requirements,â€ said Gurpal Singh, defence specialist at the Confederation of Indian Industry. AK Antony, the countryâ€™s defence minister, complained that Indian companies were not spending enough on the research and development essential for successful â€œIndianisationâ€ of the business. â€œYou must abandon this miserly attitude, in spending more money on R&D,â€ he said.