Focus on export and global co-operations

“The government can be an effective catalyst for private and public sector in defence.”   — Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Show: Defexpo India 2018 - Day 2 By Rohit Srivastava

One day before the formal inauguration of Defexpo 2018, India’s premiere defence exhibition, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with an eye on the export said that a larger objective will be served by focusing on defence industry.

Calling India a strong, growing and futuristic economy which is sustaining itself, Sitharaman said that it is not only a government’s compulsion to support defence production but also to achieve larger objectives. She was speaking on the first day of Defexpo 2018.

“Making India a hub for defence industries and making sure that the defence production is not just for our consumption but also to aim on export. So, India today is able to talk bilaterally to many countries,” she said.

She added that India understands that shifting defence production to India and transfer of technology is not one sided dream but it is an actual reality which is taking shape.

Talking to the reporters, the minister and senior officers of the ministry, informed that during the three days of the event many business to business interactions are planned, which will lead to joint ventures and collaborations between Indian and foreign players. DRDO is also expected to announce transfer of technology agreements with Indian firms. Responding to questions on Strategic Partnership, the officials said that first step in implementation of the policy has been taken.

During the interaction, officials informed that in coming month, work on the Uttar Pradesh defence corridor will gain momentum.

Speaking on the lack of funds, the minister said that the utilisation of funds by the three services last year has improved and they are utilising almost whole of the budget allotted to them.

Without disclosing the outcome of her recent Russia trip, Sitharaman said that the visit was fruitful.

Speaking on the Indo-US defence partnership, the minister said, “We wish to engage with the United States as much as the ambassador (US Ambassador) has said.”

Kenneth I. Juster, US Ambassador to India, while speaking at the event had said that this region is going through lot of change and the partnership between the two countries is giving strong signal to the region and beyond.

“I am looking forward to the 2+2 (with US)...We look forward to having that engagement. I think a lot more traction will be gained post 2+2,” the minister added. Speaking further Sitharaman said that India looks forward to US inputs to take the defence industry further.

With a tag line of ‘India the emerging defence manufacturing hub’, the 10th edition of Defexpo showcases India’s defence manufacturing capabilities.

India which is now the world’s biggest arms importer is showcasing its indigenous products like, Arjun Mk-II - an upgrade of Main Battle Tank Arjun, Akash surface-to-air missile, DRDO’s under development Advanced Towed Artillery Gun, HAL’s ALH Dhruv and other sophisticated equipment.

United Kingdom, one of India oldest defence partner, seizing the opportunity to increase its foot print in Indian defence market at Defexpo, will focus on creating a genuine ‘two-way street’ of defence equipment collaboration, investment and technology transfer.

Guto Bebb, UK Minister for Defence Procurement, is leading the UK delegation accompanied by the British High Commissioner to India. The Minister will be accompanied by some 20 UK companies who are keen to forge mutually beneficial industrial partnerships and joint ventures with Indian companies.

“The UK and India have much to offer one another in defence: including research, development, collaboration and training. We want to work in partnership with India to build on our shared mutual knowledge, security and prosperity,” Guto Bebb said in a statement.

Chennai, the host city, is one of the five nodal cities of Tamil Nadu Defence Corridor. It aims to create synergy between all defence industry players in the region and make it a defence production powerhouse.