NEW DELHI: In its first public display of the might of New India, Defence Expo 2022 (October 18 to 22) showcased the vast array of indigenously developed military hardware and operational systems to the world. For the first time, only Indian companies participated in the Asia’s largest-ever event of its kind, themed ‘Path to Pride’. Everything on display was made in India.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed out at the inaugural session held in Gujarat’s state capital Gandhinagar, it was a fitting tribute to the Government initiatives towards self-reliance in the defence sector. “In the defence sector, New India is moving ahead with the mantra of intent, innovation and implementation Indian defence companies today are becoming a significant part of the global supply chain. Indian defence products export increased eight folds in the last eight years,” PM Modi said.
As the Prime Minister pointed out, Defence Expo 2022 has “caused inconvenience” to some countries, particularly China, while several countries have responded positively as the Indian defence ecosystem is spreading its arms. The Prime Minister also announced the Government’s fourth list of 101 items that would be barred from import. This brings up the number of defence related goods that can only be procured locally to 411.
This amounts to a phenomenal leapfrog by India’s defence production sector. Traditionally, India was the world’s largest importers of arms and equipment used by its armed forces. Today, the country is exporting these to more than 75 countries.
With collaborative efforts, India has taken several policy initiatives in the past few years to amplify its indigenous design, development, and manufacture of defence equipment, to make world-class military apparatus. At the expo, the Government had done well to line up several events to make up for the limited participation due to the on-going Ukraine conflict.
The second India-Africa Defence Dialogue, in which 53 African countries participated, and the Indian Ocean Region plus (IOR+) conclave, with participation of over 40 countries, were also held during the expo. Presided by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, foreign delegations at both the events were headed by their ministers and other high functionaries. Over 400 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed on the occasion, which is double than the 201 that were signed during the previous edition of the expo in Lucknow.
More than 1,300 exhibitors, including start-ups, from PSU and private industry, displayed their products at the expo. A major attraction was the Defence Research and Development Organisation, which displayed 430 of its products. Apart from that, ten states had come up with their individual policies to attract manufacturers.