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India Bans Drone Import To Help Domestic Sector

Context:

Recently the Government of India banned the import of Drones with immediate effect, except for research and development, defence and security purposes.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies & Interventions, GS II: Defence Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Reason for prohibition of drones for import?
  2. What is a Drone?
  3. Recent initiatives by the Government

Reason for prohibition of drones for import?

  • The move is aimed at giving a boost to domestic manufacturing of drones, which is seen as a sector that is set to witness rapid growth this decade.
  • Thought exceptions were provided for R&D, defence and security, importing drones for these purposes will require “due clearances”.
  • Drone Components:
    • Import of drone components are exempted from the need for approvals as it seeks to boost domestic manufacturing of drones.
  • According to BIS Research, India’s drone market is estimated to account for about 4.25 per cent of the global drone market worth about $28.5 billion in FY22.
  • Import of drones are allowed for?
    • Government entities, educational institutions and government recognised R&D entities will be allowed to import drones

What is a Drone?

  • A Drone is an unmanned aircraft.
  • It is formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems.
  • It is essentially a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously using software-controlled flight plans in its embedded systems, that work in conjunction with onboard sensors and a global positioning system (GPS).
  • UAVs are often used in Military purposes but now it finds huge application in range of civilian roles.
  • They were initially used for anti-aircraft target practice, intelligence gathering and, more controversially, as weapons platforms.
  • Applications of Drones:
    • search and rescue
    • surveillance
    • traffic monitoring
    • weather monitoring
    • fire-fighting
    • personal use
    • drone-based photography
    • videography
    • agriculture
    • delivery services
Current Affairs 10 February 2022

Recent initiatives by the Government:

  • Easing rules: The import ban follows a move by the government to ease rules around registration and operation of drones in India
    • The new Drone Rules, 2021 : The Ministry of Civil Aviation has liberalised drone rules last year with the aim to encourage R&D and to make India a drone hub.
      • It has reduced both compliances and fees required to operate drones.
  • Production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme : The government also approved a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and their components with an allocation of ₹120 crore for three financial years.
    • The government has estimated that the PLI scheme for drones would generate investment of over Rs 5,000 crore and 10,000 direct jobs in India’s drone manufacturing sector till FY24.
    • The PLI scheme is also expected to boost the total turnover of the domestic industry to Rs 900 crore in FY24 up from an estimated Rs 60 crore in FY21.
  • Airspace map of India:
    • It was launched by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) digital sky platform
    • It demarcates the areas where drones can be used without permission and areas in which drone operators cannot operate drones without obtaining prior permission from government authorities.

-Source: The Hindu & The Indian Express

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September 2022
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