Showcasing the country's military prowess and the nation's emergence as an attractive destination for investment in the sector, Defence Minister A.K. Antony declared open the Defexpo India-2012, the 7th Land, Naval and Internal Security Systems Exhibition, at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. Nearly 570 exhibitors (compared with 425 exhibitors in Defexpo 2010, the last exhibition), including national and worldwide, have participated at the biennial event. In addition to 335 Indian distributors comprising public sector companies and large and small private sector companies, the exhibitors’ list includes 232 foreign companies from 32 countries like US, Russia, France, Israel, the UK and Germany. The event is believed to be attended by official delegations from 60 countries. While the Department of Defence Production in the defence ministry is organising Asia's biggest defence exposition, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is the manager.
Addressing the inaugural function, Antony said that acceding to the demands of the Industry, the Government has widened the ambit of Offsets to include Civil Aerospace, Internal Security and Training sectors. He also stated, “At the politico-security level, India has always been recognised as a responsible power and a stabilising factor in this region, in the face of various security challenges originating from different sources around us. India has traditionally been a peace-loving nation. However, we have to be ready to meet any challenge to our territorial integrity and sovereignty. Our Armed Forces need to have access to the latest defence technologies, equipped with the state-of-the-art platforms, equipment and systems to meet any threat. Our Government’s efforts are directed towards modernisation our Armed Forces.”
He mentioned the fact that India’s defence expenditure in the recent past has been around 2pc of the GDP. With the projected growth of the Indian economy expected at a trajectory of 8-10pc for the next two decades, expenditure on defence in absolute terms is bound to increase.
R.V. Kanoria, President, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), however, made a strong plea for confining Offsets in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) to Defence Items only. Presenting the Vote of Thanks during the
Inaugural Ceremony, Shri Kanoria said, “FICCI believes that creating capability and value addition should be the cornerstone of the Offset Policy with Offsets to be gratified specifically against Defence Items only.” He also stated that that the private sector was committed in fulfilling the Government’s quest for building a robust Defence
Industry. “Defence Sector is a subject of national security and we in the Private Sector will support the defence ministry in building India as defence capability.”
Addressing a Press Conference later, the Defence Minister said that already the efforts of the DPP towards indigenization had started bearing fruit. “The ratio of Foreign to Domestic Industry procurement by the Armed Forces was 70:30 some years back, but it has started changing and is approaching 60:40.”
The FICCI President said “The defence sector in India is a sunrise sector and offers many opportunities to the global Defence Industry to invest and do business
in India. The expo showcases India’s emergence as an attractive destination for investment and also acts as a platform for alliances and joint ventures in Defence Industry. It is conducted with an aim to strengthen India’s Defence Sector and to promote Defence Exports from India,” Kanoria said
The exhibition area has increased from 27,309 sq meters in 2010 to 30,760 sq meters this year. Many products are expected to be launched by Indian and Foreign Companies during the exhibition. Several business-to-business meetings are planned to be held on the sidelines.
Antony also added, “It need not be over-emphasised that we have to achieve a high level of indigenisation in defence and this is our thrust area. Our quest for self-reliance in defence underlines the growing importance of private sector participation on the one hand, and revitalising the public sector on the other. Our emphasis is on public-private sector partnership in the defence industry. Enabling Policy framework has been put in place to develop indigenous capabilities through harnessing the potential and utilising resources available, both in the public and the private sector. Our defence industry is now open up to 100 per cent for Indian private sector participation, while Foreign Direct Investment is permissible up to 26pc.”
He also highlighted the fact that the defence ministry has been periodically reviewing the Defence Procurement Procedures to usher in greater transparency and speed in the acquisition process. The introduction of “Buy & Make (Indian)” category in Defence Procurement Procedures is aimed at encouraging proactive participation of the Indian industry by way of forming joint ventures with any foreign manufacturer.
The defence minister has also announced, “Offset banking is permissible in our Defence Offset policy, the scope of which has now been expanded to include civil aerospace, internal security and training within the ambit of eligible products and services for discharge of offset obligations. The licensing condition has already been rationalised. As part of the continuous process of periodic review of our Defence Procurement Procedure, review of the Defence Offset Policy is also being undertaken and further changes are expected in due course. The Indian defence industry has gradually matured over the years and substantial capabilities have been developed in land, naval and air systems. As a result of the introduction of Defence Offset Policy, India is gradually becoming a key outsourcing hub for the global defence industry.”
“Defexpo India 2012 is our endeavour to showcase India’s capabilities in land, naval and security systems, as well as its emergence as an attractive destination for investment in defence sector. The event will also demonstrate our capability to design, develop and deliver a wide range of military and civil products and services to meet the stringent specifications and, that too, at most competitive prices. We are open to enter into mutually beneficial agreements with friendly countries in the field of critical and state-of-the-art futuristic defence technologies. We would welcome all such proposals in our endeavour to modernise our Armed Forces,” as claimed by the union defence minister.
The Minister of State for Defence Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju has said that the Government would encourage Joint Ventures and promote the participation of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Defence Industry sector. Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the Defexpo India-2012, he said that the Government was striving for self-reliance while it remained committed to equip the armed forces with the latest equipment and weaponry.
The Def Expo was in 1998 with an objective to promote defence exports from India and exhibit the capabilities of Indian defence research and development and production.
The first exhibition was held in 1999 and subsequently in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Israel is the biggest participating country in terms of indoor space occupied (1,293 sq mt) while Russia is represented with the maximum number of 37 companies. Many new products will be launched by Indian and foreign companies.
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