Lucknow: As India’s mega biennial defence event DefExpo 2020 opened on Wednesday, there are two things that have emerged very clearly about the future of the defence industry in India. One, the government is readying itself to increase focus on Make in India more than ever before and pave the way for and indigenous warfare revolution 4.0. Secondly, the Centre is looking at MSMEs to play a bigger role in indigenous defence manufacturing.
What has been the status of Make in India so far?
Speaking to PSU Watch, an official of the Indian Navy said on the condition of anonymity, that the progress made by Make in India has been different for different armed services. “If you look at the Indian Navy, for example, the growth of Make in India has been tremendous. In fact, the Navy has been taking care of the maintenance of its imported warships, which in itself is an expensive business, on its own for a decade at least. And therefore, significant progress has been made in this regard. However, if you look at other armed services, I think there is still scope to do more.”
A section of the exhibition at DefExpo was dedicated to showcasing the indigenisation in Naval armament. The section displayed several equipments, components which have been developed indigenously and cost a fraction of what India paid to procure them from foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). For instance, the indigenous cost of Muzzle Velocity Pressure Measurement Equipment, which was procured by India from foreign OEMs at Rs 2.40 lakh, is Rs 3.7 lakh. Similarly, the indigenous version of a recorder which is used in torpedos costs Rs 9.25 lakh per unit, resulting in a saving of Rs 75 lakh to the exchequer.
Bigger role for MSMEs
On display at DefExpo 2020 was an indigenously developed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) by an MSME called Hindustan UAV Systems Pvt Ltd. Speaking to PSU Watch, its director (technology), Ramdas M Kumbala, said, “This is India’s first indigenously developed UAV. And we have developed it by spending money from our own pockets.” While noting that there is no dearth of indigenous innovation, Kumabala said that for Make in India to take off and to make MSMEs a party to the progress, the government should pitch in with funds. “A little bit of handholding will place us amongst the likes of Israel. Funding is a major issue that holds back R&D (research and development) for us,” noted Kumbala.
The 11th edition of DefExpo in Lucknow, UP, is India’s biennial military exhibition that seeks to showcase the potential of the country as a global defence manufacturing hub. DefExpo 2020 has become one of India’s largest defence exhibition platform as well as one of the top DefExpo(s) in the world.