Govt can’t compel Forces to buy local weapons: Nirmala

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 12 Apr 2018 09:23:01


By Kaushik Bhattacharya

Thiruvidanthai, (Chennai),

DefExpo 2018 begins.Over 670 defence firms, including 154 foreign manufacturers, are participating in the exhibition of weapons and military hardware

“THE Government cannot compel Indian Armed Forces to buy indigenous weapons, however, it on them that which weapon is good for them,” said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday after she opened the India’s mega defence exhibition -- the DefExpo 2018.

The four-day DefExpo, whose theme is “Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub, held at Thiruvidanthai off the East Coast Road near Chennai, is the 10th in the biennial exercise aimed at establishing Brand India and highlighting the manufacturing capabilities of the country’s public and private sectors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally inaugurate the Defence Expo on Thursday.
Asked about the huge export-import gap in the defence sector of a country that does not even figure among the top 25 exporters of arms and reluctance of its forces to buy locally manufactured weapon systems, Sitharaman said she could only tell the Indian Armed Forces to procure from indigenous companies ‘as much as possible’. “I cannot imagine prevailing upon them. We will only want them to give space to local manufacturers and buy indigenous products,” she added.

India is expected to spend close to USD 300 billion in the next five years in procuring defence equipment and almost all major global defence firms are eyeing a slice of it. According to the Defence Ministry, over 670 defence firms, including 154 foreign manufacturers, are participating in the exhibition of weapons and military hardware. Sitharaman said that the Government was not targeting a specific number of deals or agreements expected to be signed at the exhibition that “showcases the strengths of India’s public sector and also uncovers India’s growing private industry and spreading MSME base for components and sub-systems”.

The response from foreign companies this time, as compared to the previous DefExpo held in Goa in 2016, has not been that good. A total of 232 foreign companies had participated in Goa, while it is 154 this time. However, Defence Minister has mentioned that India is a biggest importer in the world. However, this Defexpo is completely dedicated for Indian manufacturers and this event will chance our status from “Importer to Exporter” on the World arena.

While asked her about the next venue for Defexpo, Sitharaman said, “Central Government is concern about the development of whole country and avail chance to conduct such mega event in every State instead of Delhi only. Hence, it is not possible to predict any name for next venue of Defexpo.”

The press conference was attended by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, Secretary of Defence Production Ajay Kumar, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chairman Dr S Christopher and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra.