Manohar Parrikar, an engineer and entrepreneur known for his simple living with a reputation as an honest person, has been named India’s new defense minister.
Parrikar, former chief minister of the coastal state of Goa, replaces Arun Jaitley, who was doubling as finance minister and defense minister.
“He [Parrikar] would maintain the fast pace of acquisition set in motion by the government for the defense forces while ensuring transparency at every stage,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
He was sworn in on Sunday.
“Parrikar has been brought in as new defense minister with the aim of achieving ‘Make India’ defense projects, which is the top priority of the Narendra Modi government,” said defense analyst Nitin Mehta.
In the MoD release, Parrikar referred to Make India — the drive to increase the level of indigenous weapons development — as a “measure [that] will not only lead to self-reliance in defense manufacturing, but also generate employment and would ultimately contribute to economic development.”
Parrikar is an engineering graduate from India’s premier Indian Institute of Technology.
“The major task before Parrikar is to speed up weapons acquisition, which has been delayed by the outgoing United Progressive Alliance government,” Mehta said.
Jaitley increased the limit of foreign direct investment from 26 percent to 49 percent, but so far not a single joint venture has been struck on equity-sharing basis with an overseas original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
“Pushing greater partnership between Indian defense industry and OEMs will be another major task before Parrikar to make weapons at home,” Mehta added.