'DIDM - A Watershed Moment in Defence Production': Dr Ajay Kumar
The Defence Industry Development Meet in Chennai, organised by the Department of Defence Production (DIDM), Ministry of Defence, would forge new partnerships in the defence manufacturing sector, and would be a watershed moment in the defence manufacturing industry in India, said Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Department of Defence Production. "The DIDM will play a crucial role in forging new partnerships in the area of defence production, and thereby transform India into a major export hub of defence equipment. I would like to see this event as a watershed moment in defence manufacturing that will forge new partnerships between industries and defence sector. I urge all industrial leaders to help in transforming India into a major defence hub," said Ajay Kumar at the inaugural function of DIDM, which has marked the presence of the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Edappadi K Palaniswami, The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and many other persons related to defence sector and industry.
Ajay Kumar has said that the DIDM, guided by Nirmala Sitharaman and supported by the government of Tamil Nadu, has been the perfect example of how the centre and a state can join their hands to promote the defence production. He has urged all defence manufacturers to take complete advantage of the two-day event, the various opportunities provided, and the presence of distinguished personalities from various spheres in the defence sector and manufacturing, to further develop the defence industry in India. He has also urged them to put in their suggestions regarding how the centre should promote its agenda of defence productions by forging new partnerships.
Ajay Kumar has said that the central government is trying to increase the rate of defence exports by India, and project the image of the country as a major defence exporter in the world. "Between 2010 and 2014, India was the largest importer of defence equipment. Nearly 15% of the defence equipment of the country was imported. If we go back a few decades more, this distinction was a lot worse, but only behind China. But during 2010-14, China has turned into the third largest exporter from the largest importer of defence equipment in the world. Hence, what the government intends is to turn India too into a leading defence exporter by diminishing its importer image," he said.
The secretary has added that this shift cannot be attained without industry participation. Today, India has a thriving and vibrant public-sector ecosystem in defence. The government is looking forward to a parallel growth of private players in the sector along with the public undertakings. It will ensure that the country is moving in the right direction towards achieving the government's aim, he said.
Ajay Kumar has also highlighted the role of defence start-ups in fulfilling the country's intended shift towards being a defence exporter. "Most of the states, especially Tamil Nadu, have extremely vivid and vibrant ecosystem that could nourish budding start-up initiatives. Funds and investments from across the world are now coming to Indian start-ups. The government is currently trying to enhance the framework for start-ups so that they can add to powering the defence manufacturing," he said.
Ajay Kumar has also highlighted some of the achievements of the government. The government has started giving preference to domestic defence manufacturers through top procurement policies. The first priority is for Indian designed and manufactured products. "We have streamlined industrial licensing, as more than two-third of items that required industrial licensing is now out of it. For the first time, export has been liberalised and the government encourages when someone is producing for India. There is a huge export market out there in the world and the government is doing everything possible to tap it," he said.
For promoting MSMEs, defence PSUs and OEMs have been directed to give advances when they make orders. Public testing and lab facilities have been made available for industry to use. Now 143 items in defence sector, including the recently allowed 39, are now available for industries to manufacture and export. Ajay Kumar has also referred to the simplified Make II procedure, released by The Defence Minister, for enhancing and smoothening defence procurement process, and said that it will be a major game-changer for India.