Western powers rush to court India on defence deals
Published on Jun 29, 2014 12:36 PM
NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - Western governments are rushing to visit India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, drawn by the prospect of multi-billion-dollar deals as the government prepares to open the nascent defence industry to foreign investment.
Senior politicians from France, the United States and Britain arrive in quick succession over the next 10 days as Mr Modi prepares to accelerate the modernisation of the country's mostly Soviet-era weaponry. He intends to build up India's military capabilities and gradually turn the world's largest arms importer into a heavyweight manufacturer - a goal that has eluded every prime minister since independence in 1947.
On the table is a proposal circulated within the new government to raise caps on foreign investment - with one option to allow complete foreign ownership of some defence projects.
"All the countries are trying to make their case, especially as there is the sense that the Indian market will undergo a shift," said Harsh Pant, professor of international relations at King's College London. "They get a sense from their dealings that something dramatic is going to happen and they want first-mover advantage," said Prof Pant, who specialises in Indian defence.
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