DefExpo India 2020

Issue: 1 / 2020By Lt General P.C. Katoch (Retd)

DefExpo India 2020 is being organised for the very first time at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. It is the 11th edition of DefExpo with SP Guide Publications as official media partner and the largest ever held. The exhibition is scheduled from February 5 to 8. The theme for DefExpo India is ‘India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, "DefExpo will provide opportunity to professionals and industry to find new meeting grounds for developing military industrial enterprises".

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had launched the DefExpo 2020 website on September 30, 2019 enabling the exhibitors to register and book space online as per their requirements on a first-comefirst-serve basis, make online payments, book conference halls and venues for Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings. Concurrently, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had also launched mobile app for DefExpo 2020. DefExpo India 2020 is the largest showcase for new and future defence technology providing opportunity to defence companies to display their land, sea and air capabilities at a single venue. What will attract Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Defence Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), researchers and investors is the size of the Indian defence market.

The Indian government is looking at achieving a turnover of 1.7 trillion in military goods and services by 2025 and the SP model is envisaged to capitalise this opportunity and contribute to ‘Make in India’ programme. The target also is to achieve export of 350 billion ($5 billion approximately) in defence goods and services by 2025. As per the military’s acquisition plans for next 10 years, industry is expected to acquire capital assets worth 15 trillion. Defence production in India is heading towards private sector participation but at a very slow pace because of vested interests. Attempts to corporatise the governmental defence-industrial organisations are stonewalled by trade unions supported by political parties due to vote-bank politics. B etween 2015-16 and 2018-19 (April-October), out of total of 188 contracts, 121 contracts were signed with Indian vendors including Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs)/Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs)/Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and private vendors for capital procurement of defence equipment. The equipment to be procured included helicopters, naval vessels, radars, ballistic helmets, artillery guns, simulators, missiles, bulletproof jackets, electronic fuzes and ammunition.

DefExpo 2020 offers an excellent opportunity for the Indian defence industry to showcase its capabilities and promote its export potential. Though the main theme of the exhibition is ‘India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub’, the focus will be on ‘Digital Transformation of Defence’. Uttar Pradesh already has four units of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd at Lucknow, Kanpur, Korwa and Naini (Prayagraj), nine ordnance factory units, including Kanpur, Korwa, Shahjahanpur, Firozabad and one unit of B harat Electronics L imited at Ghaziabad. One of the two Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs) of India is also planned in Uttar Pradesh. The Corridor will encourage Defence Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), including Indian defence industry and promote Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs). The other DIC is proposed in Tamil Nadu. DPP 2018 was a step towards creating an industry-friendly structure to facilitate better contract negotiations and improve the pace of contract awards. Breakthroughs like Make procedure, strategic partnership (SP) model, liberalisation of FDI norms and creation of a level-playing to private industry have been introduced. However, the strategic partnership (SP) policy has several shortcomings which might create barriers in realizing the goals. Additionally, the offset policy encourages foreign vendors to engage in the complete transfer of technology arrangements with Indian offset partners has remained largely unmet.

As per the India Infrastructure Research, nearly $13.5 billion worth of defence offset obligations would be discharged in India by foreign OEMs in the eight to 10 years. India’s defence sector has been growing at a modest pace for the past few years. However, modernisation of the Armed Forces and indigenisation of manufacturing is emerging as focus areas. These segments are receiving the much-needed push under the ‘Make in India’ programme. This is an opportune time to embark upon a new phase of selfreliance in the sector by manufacturing technologically advanced equipment within India; providing attractive opportunities for co-development and co-production of defence equipment and systems not only for our defence forces but also for export to the world. Events in DefExpo are conducted at an international level, which not only facilitates B usiness-to-Business (B2B) interaction with senior foreign delegations but also Government-to-Government (G2G) meetings and signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs). DefExpo will provide an opportunity to the major foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to collaborate with the Indian defence industry and help promote ‘Make in India’ initiative. Ministerial level delegations from the foreign countries and visitors from across India as well as abroad are expected to visit DefExpo 2020 and witness India’s emergence as a major manufacturing hub.