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Unique Facets of DefExpo 2022

DefExpo 2022 is being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from October 18 to 22. The aim is to showcase the might of the domestic defence industry which is now powering ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ resolve of the government.

Issue 5 - 2022 By Lt General P.C. Katoch (Retd)Photo(s): By PIB, PRO Navy, SpokespersonMoD / Twitter
(Left-Right) The Union Minister for Defence Rajnath Singh reviewing the preparations of the forthcoming DefExpo 2022

India’s Defence Exhibition Organisation is an autonomous organisation of the government established in 1981 to promote the export potential of the Indian defence industry. The agency is responsible for organising international exhibitions like the DefExpo and India’s participation at defence and security exhibitions in foreign countries. To start with, DefExpo a flagship event of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to showcase the land, naval, air as well as homeland security systems, was held biennially at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. However, in recent years, DefExpo has been held around the country at different venues.

DefExpo 2020 was held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, in February 5-8, 2020 to attract investments in the Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor. The DefExpo 2022 was earlier scheduled from March 10-14, 2022 at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. However, this was postponed with the government citing logistical challenges being faced by the participants during that period. Thereafter, new dates for DefExpo 2022 announced on August 8 rescheduled the event from October 18 to October 22. The theme for this year’s expo is ‘Path to Pride’, which is aimed at invoking nationalistic pride and encouraging citizens to partake in nation building through establishing a capable indigenous defence industry.

In recent years, the government’s focus has been on the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The policy approach in this is to create a favourable environment for investments, develop a modern and efficient infrastructure and open up new sectors for foreign capital. The initiative targeted 25 economic sectors for job creation and skill enhancement, and aimed to transform India into a global design and manufacturing export hub. It was to encourage companies, both public and private, to develop, manufacture and assemble products made in India and incentivise dedicated investments into manufacturing.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed satisfaction at the preparations and encouraged the officials to make DefExpo 2022 the best-ever defence exhibition

The government had laid out three objectives for ‘Make in India’. These were: to increase the manufacturing sector’s growth rate to 12-14 per cent per annum; to create 100 million additional manufacturing jobs in the economy by 2022, and; to ensure that the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP is increased to 25 per cent by 2022 (later revised to 2025). However, statistics indicate that these objectives have not been fully achieved yet.

DefExpo 2022 will be held at the Helipad Exhibition Centre (HEC), while the inaugural official functions and seminars are to be held at the Mahatma Mandir Convention Exhibition Centre (MMCEC). Live demonstrations on all five days of the DefExpo are being organised at Sabarmati River Front (SRF) and ship visits for public by Indian Coast Guard (ICG) at Porbandar. In addition, the biggest drone show by the indigenous IIT Delhi start-up Botlabs (an iDEX winner) is also being organised during DefExpo 2022.

Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar reviewed preparations for the event during the Apex Committee Meeting held on September 24. Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat, Pankaj Kumar and other senior officers of the state government and the Ministry of Defence attended the meeting. A statement issued after the Apex Committee Meeting read, “The 12th edition of DefExpo is scheduled to be held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat between October 18-22, 2022 in a first ever four-venue format which promises to engage the public and inspire them to join the aerospace and defence manufacturing sector for ‘Atmanirbharta’ in defence.”

(Left-Right) Glimpses from DefExpo 2020

The statement further said, “The aim is to showcase the might of the domestic defence industry which is now powering ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ resolve of the government and the nation at large. Over 1,000 exhibitors have registered and the numbers are anticipated to be the highest-ever recorded during the previous editions of DefExpo. Also, towards greater participation by start-ups and MSMEs, a 50 per cent discount on space charges is offered. The exhibition will also host the second edition of the India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD), with invites extended to 53 African countries. A separate Indian Ocean Region plus (IOR+) conclave with participation of approximately 40 countries is also on the anvil.”

The exhibition will host the second edition of the India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IAD), with invites extended to 53 African countries and a separate Indian Ocean Region plus (IOR+) conclave with participation of approximately 40 countries

On September 27, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the preparations of the forthcoming DefExpo 2022, in New Delhi. During the meeting, the Defence Minister was briefed by officials about the extensive arrangements being made by multiple stakeholders for the event. He expressed satisfaction at the preparations, while encouraging the officials to make DefExpo 2022 the best-ever defence exhibition. Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and other senior officials of Ministry of Defence were present in the meeting.

DefExpo 2022 is unique because of the following reasons:

  • It is the first-ever edition of DefExpo exclusively for ‘Indian’ companies.
  • It is the largest ever DefExpo held since its inception; covering an area of 1.1 lakh square metres.
  • The response from Indian companies was so huge that the closing date for registration had to be extended to October 5, 2022.
  • It marks the celebration of one year of the formation of the seven new defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) carved out of the erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and 41 Ordnance Factories (OF) under it. These seven DPSUs are also participating in DefExpo 2022 for the first time.
  • Many states are participating by putting up State Pavilions for the first time. These Pavilions would also provide the opportunity for Chief Ministers, Industries Ministers, Chief Secretaries, among others, to solicit investment and promote their respective states thus cultivating more centres for indigenous aerospace and defence manufacturing within the country.
  • Live demonstrations at the Sabarmati River Front (SRF), ICG ship visits for public at Porbandar and the biggest drone show are being held.
  • The Defence Minister’s ‘Awards for Excellence in Defence Manufacturing’ will be presented during the DefExpo for the first time.

DefExpo 2022 will certainly provide a big boost to ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ in the defence sector with more than 300 partnerships in terms of memorandums of understanding (MoUs), transfer of technology (ToT) agreements and product launches being finalised. All this will showcase the strides made by India in the defence sector and will provide an impetus to defence exports also.