India Bans Import Of Drones

India Banned Import Of Drones

In today’s series of our Current Affairs Dialog Box, we will discuss why India has banned the import of Drones, its relevance from the Prelims and Mains syllabus point of view, and why it should be studied extensively during UPSC exam preparation. 

Why in the News?

Recently, the Government has banned the import of drones except for R&D, defence and security purposes.

Probable Question

What are the advantages of banning imports of drones? Discuss the measures taken by the government to promote indigenously made drones.

Key Points

  • The government has taken this measure to promote make in India drones.
  • The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has issued an order, prohibiting with immediate effect the import of drones in Completely-Built-Up (CBU), Semi-knocked-down (SKD) or Completely-Knocked-down (CKD) forms.

Exception

  • Import of Drones will be allowed in
    • Import of drone components as local manufacturers heavily rely on them to assemble their own drones.
    • Import of drones by government entities, 
    • Educational institutions recognised by Central or State governments, 
    • Government recognised R&D entities and drone manufacturers for R&D purposes and 
    • For defence and security purposes will be allowed provided an import authorisation is obtained from the DGFT.

Also, read the Most valuable and productive resource for Prelims 2022 Revision

Measures Taken by The Government to Promote Indigenously Made Drones

  • The Government had brought out Liberalised Drone Rules, 2021.
    • It reduced the number of forms to be filled to seek authorisation from 25 to five. 
    • They also dispensed with the need for security clearance before any registration or issuance of the licence.
    • R&D entities have been provided blanket exemption from all kinds of permissions, and restrictions on foreign-owned companies registered in India have also been removed. 
  • Production-linked Incentive scheme for drones: 
    • The Government has also announced a production-linked incentive scheme for drones and drone components with the aim to make India a “global drone hub by 2030”. 
    • It will offer an incentive of 20% of the value addition made by a manufacturer of drones.
  • Last month, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has sent a note on use of drones across various sectors to different ministries at the centre.

Impact of Banning Drone Import

  • It will ensure that an Indian manufacturer has control of the IP, design and software which gives them a total understanding and control of the product. 
  • Over a period of time it can also enable further indigenisation.
  • The ban is likely to hurt those who use drones for photography and videography for weddings and events as these primarily come from China because they are cheaper and easy-to-use.

Watch Weekly Current Affairs Masterclass For Prelims & Mains (7th February to 13th February) by Prem Sodhani Sir, our DREAM TEAM Faculty for Current Affairs:

About Drones

The term “drone” usually refers to any unpiloted aircraft. Sometimes referred to as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” (UAVs), these crafts can carry out an impressive range of tasks, ranging from military operations to package delivery.

It was originally developed for the military and aerospace industries, drones have found their way into the mainstream because of the enhanced levels of safety and efficiency they bring.

Application of Drones

Ministry of Home Affairs: VVIP security, Surveillance, situational analysis, crime control, and counter-terror operations.

Ministry of Defence: Combat operations, communication in remote areas, counter-drone solutions, reconnaissance and surveillance.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare: Delivery of medicines, collection of samples from remote or epidemic/pandemic-affected areas delivery of blood and organ transplantation.

Ministry of  Environment, Forests and Climate Change: Anti-poaching actions, monitoring of forests and wildlife, pollution assessment, and evidence gathering.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting: The Ministry could use drones for high-quality videography of events and difficult-to-reach-places at a fraction of the cost and approvals required. This move would also facilitate low altitude shooting without noise, and prevent dust pollution and risk of accidents.

Ministry of Agriculture: Crop and soil health monitoring, anti-locust work, insurance claim survey, spraying fertilizers and pesticides targetedly.

Ministry of Panchayati Raj: Land Records and property rights.

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Ministry of Power: Real-time surveillance of assets and transmission lines, theft prevention, visual inspection/maintenance, construction planning and management.

Ministry of Railways: unmanned aerial vehicles could be used to undertake disaster management, incidence response, inspection/maintenance works and project monitoring.
Key features of Liberalised Drone Rules 2021

Ease of Doing Business: The total number of forms that were to be filled has been reduced from 25 to 5.

And the total number of fees that are to be paid before being able to operate drones has been reduced from 72 to just 4.

Several Approvals Abolished: unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permits, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation etc.

Digital Sky Platform: It shall be developed as a user-friendly single-window system.  There will be minimal human interface and most permissions will be self-generated.

Digital Sky Platform is an initiative by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to provide a secure and scalable platform that supports drone technology frameworks, such as NPNT (no permission, no take-off), designed to enable flight permission digitally and manage unmanned aircraft operations and traffic efficiently.

Interactive Airspace Map: Interactive airspace maps with green, yellow and red zones shall be displayed on the digital sky platform within 30 days of publication of these rules. 

The yellow zone, which was earlier a 45 km zone from the airport perimeter, has now been reduced to a 12 km zone, meaning that outside of a 12 km radius of an airport perimeter, it would be a green zone, where drone operators no longer need permission to fly.

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