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Russia partners with Pipavav Defence to build Grigorivich frigates in India

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New Delhi, (IANS): With India close to choosing Grigorivich frigates for its navy, Russia is partnering with Anil Ambani-led Pipavav Defence to build these ships under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, official sources said on Thursday.

They will be upgraded versions of Talwar-class ships, or the Russian equivalent of Krivak-III.

Photo Credit-Indian Defence News
Photo Credit-Indian Defence News

Confirming this to IANS, at least two senior defense officials said a team from Russia evaluated three or four private and state-run shipyards as they were keen on an Indian partner if the ships were to be built in India. This will be a pre-condition for the order valued at $3-$3.5 billion.

The sites evaluated were Pipavav’s yard in Gujarat, Larsen and Toubro’s unit at Ennore, and the state-run Cochin Shipyard in Kerala. Pipavav, a majority stake in which was acquired by the Reliance Group a few months ago, emerged the winner.

“The Prime Minister’s Office is closely watching the development,” one of the two officials told IANS. “This is likely to be an order that will be placed on the Government of Russia by our government.”

Incidentally, the development comes against the backdrop of the Navy vice chief, Vice Admiral P. Murugesan, stating on Tuesday that India was exploring the possibility of getting upgraded Talwar-class ships and was in talks with Russia for its Grigorivich frigates technology.

“As per our maritime perspective plan, we have to build a certain number of ships in a certain time. We are exploring the possibility to expedite the acquisition of certain number of ships,” Murugesan told reporters here. “But this will not be an import. It has to be made in India.”

The idea is to have a 198-ship force by 2027, up from the current 137 vessels.

India has been stressing on domestic defense production under the “Make in India” program, an important aspect of which is to get technology transfers and inviting foreign firms to manufacture in India.

The Grigorivichs are improved variants of the six Talwar-class frigates the navy obtained between 2003 and 2013. The maritime capability perspective plan of the Indian Navy envisages a 198-ship force by 2027, up from the current 137 vessels.

Already, 48 warships are currently under construction at Indian shipyards, including aircraft carriers, frigates, destroyers, submarines, corvettes, and fast attack craft.

In March, the Reliance Group had announced its acquisition of a 18-percent stake from the then promoters of Pipavav Defence, apart from a 26-percent mandatory open offer.

Pipavav’s facility is at the location by the same name on the Gujarat coast and claims modern, versatile engineering, and fabrication facilities with shipbuilding infrastructure that is also suitable for the construction of a wide range of warships and submarines.

The company is said to be a strong contender for a tender, potentially worth Rs.60,000 crore, to build six advanced submarines for the navy along with five other private and state-run firms such as Larsen and Toubro, Pipavav Defence, and the state-run Mazagon dockyard.

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Madhya Pradesh Waives off $5.3Bn in Farm Debt

The western state of Maharashtra and northern state of Uttar Pradesh, both ruled by the BJP, announced similar loan waivers last year.

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India, farmers, farm
Farmers march towards the parliament house during a rally to protest soaring farm operating costs and plunging prices of their produce, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The new leader of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is to waive up to $5.3 billion of farm loans, becoming the latest area to offer relief ahead of a national election next year as farmers reel from losses caused by falling crop prices.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party lost the central state to Congress last week dealing Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014 and boosting the opposition ahead of the vote next year.

Congress leader Kamal Nath, who became chief minister of the state on Monday, decided to write off farmers’ loans up to 200,000 rupees, according to a notification.

farmers, Bank
Police try to stop farmers during a protest demanding a better price for their produce on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. VOA

Protests on the rise

Farmers’ protests have been rising in past months due to the fall in crop prices and a rise in the cost of diesel and fertilizer.

Nearly 3.4 million farmers will benefit from the loan waiver, which is likely to cost between 350 billion rupees ($4.9 billion) to 380 billion rupees ($5.3 billion), Rajesh Rajora, the state’s principal secretary for agriculture, told Reuters.

Also Read: Arvind Kejriwal Accuses Modi Government of Betraying Farmers

The western state of Maharashtra and northern state of Uttar Pradesh, both ruled by the BJP, announced similar loan waivers last year. (VOA)