As world famous British firearms maker Webley and Scott gets all set to reboot its ties with India, the illustrious Make in India initiative is all set to get a boost as well. What with the more than two centuries old name setting to roll out production in India for the citizens of the country, the armed scenario is sure to see a radical shift.
Webley and Scott needs no introduction to those well versed with the ammo world. The iconic name had been one of the players at the fore through the two World Wars, supplying revolvers and automatic pistols to the British Army while also producing weapons for a host of foreign countries as well. For India too, this isn’t the first time that the armed biggie would be raking up shots here. Till the early 1990s, it was the W&S .38 caliber revolver that had been the standard sidearm for the police force of the country.
Civilian arms possession in India however is a more regulated matter, like most other countries of the world, where an arms license is mandatory for the acquisition of any such armed material. The law perhaps here is more stringent though- a fact easily palpable in India’s position as only the 120th most armed country in the world. Ever since the repealment of the Indian Arms Act, 1878 and the introduction of the Arms Act, 1959, the armed scenario concerning the ordinary Indian citizen sure had seen a change. But with the Indira Gandhi government having banned the import of firearms for civilians sometime in the early 1980s, it was mainly second hand guns that got into the hands of civilians, who had to pay sky high prices for the same.
Naturally then, the present expansion of the Webley and Scott name in the country, in collaboration with an Uttar Pradesh firm Sial Manufacturer Pvt Ltd, stands to bode well for the average Indian. The first foreign company to enter in the Indian market post the thrust on goods made exclusively locally, Webley and Scott India would make its presence felt as a new entity when it opens its plant in the Sandila industrial area near Lucknow.
Up for grabs would be the classic W&S Mark IV revolver in .32 caliber that will be followed by a .32 caliber pistol with polymer frame and steel slide. Also in line would be a 12 bore pump-action shotgun, a .45 caliber pistol and air rifles, as reported by the authorities. With a price tag of about Rs 1 lakh for the revolver and some Rs 2 lakhs for the pistol plus GST, it’s understandable that the outrageously expensive yet currently booming second hand arms trade would be subject to considerable competition.
Just for the record though, arms acquisition in India has never been a mean feat. Not only licence applications are subject to considerable scrutiny, with approximately 50% of such applications ending up rejected, the granting of the licence itself takes up quite some time. Even Webley and Scott obtained the licence permitting operations in India two years after it applied for the same. There also exists restrictions in the country as to what type of arms you can acquire- the fully automatic, semi-automatic firearms and some other specified types fall under the category of prohibited bore which means they tend to be highly restricted for civilian procurement. Non prohibited bore classified firearms are the ones which are permitted for possession, subject to licence clearance which again stands to be renewed after every three years. Even carrying around of licensed weapons come with some restriction as the government makes it mandatory for all firearms to be carried in specially designed holsters.
So what does the entry of Webley and Scott in the Indian market speaks of? With gun laws getting stricter by the day in India, what with apprehensions regarding rising cases of violence or simply as a precautionary measure, the measure might yield perplexing results. Indeed the newest expansion is an extension of the government’s stand to allow 100 percent foreign investment in the defence sector. Alongside however, newly proposed reforms to the arms law demands that India put in place regulations even in possession with a licence- One person, One gun is the latest salvo fired by authorities in an attempt to perhaps get more protective- of its reputation or its people is the query we are ostensibly anticipatory of!