NewsX and The Sunday Guardian organised a major Aerospace Summit on 19 October involving the vibrant Indian Defence sector. The Summit provided a platform for key discussions pertaining to the growth of the defence, naval and aviation sectors. The Summit also explored modern themes such as the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence in such areas and the potential that lies within these techniques and exploring the importance of Indian ties with countries such as France, Russia, Israel and Afghanistan.
The Summit, held at Lalit Hotel in Delhi, was graced by the presence of many leaders who have contributed to the progress of the Indian Defence sector, including Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister of India, and General Bipin Rawat, Chair of COSC (Chiefs of Staff Committee). Upon arrival, they were welcomed by Kartikeya Sharma, Founder and Promoter of iTV Network, with an inaugural speech. Following the speech, Rajnath Singh said that Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) has been lowered on defence procurement and customs duty has been exempted on defence equipment. Understanding the importance of the involvement of the private sector in defence development, he said that talent and testing facilities have been opened for the private sector and the government is always open to new ideas suggested by the private sector in New India.
His insightful approach was highlighted when he said that the Central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes in “minimum government, maximum governance”. He said that India has achieved Rs 80,000 crore of the Rs one lakh crore which is the target for defence production in India. He also said that in order for the defence sector to be self-independent, the import of weapons needs to be reduced. He commended the hard work done and the vision of the Centre, adding that two defence corridors have been announced in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. These corridors will further boost local industry.
General Bipin Rawat said that the Indian Army will tap local resources and talent available in the country. Applauding the “Make in India” initiative, he said it helps in minimising defence expenditure. On the battle to eradicate terrorism, he said that terrorism poses new challenges to global and national security. He said that harsh and fluctuating weather conditions pose challenges for the army.
Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of the Naval Staff, talked about Indian Navy’s focus on methods of naval navigation, naval capability and industrial opportunities, saying that the Indian Navy is focused on capabilities rather than counting the number of vessels. Keeping in view the geo-political situation, India has the potential to emerge as a regional ship-building hub, he said. Adding to his praise of the direction that Indian Navy is going in, he said that the Indian Navy is capable of operating in all formats of naval combat situations. Giving credit to indigenous methods, he said that 17% of the Navy’s budget is spent on indigenous sourcing and Indian Navy. Boasting about the Navy’s capabilities, he said that 26-storey naval ships can power half of Mumbai city. He emphasised the fact that the Navy wants to optimise the budget. Shipbuilding should be seen as an investment rather than as expenditure, he said.
After an extensive and eventful day of discussing various defence strategies and exploring the importance of the bond between India and other strong nations, the event ended with a memorable hint of admiration and veneration in the air, a mutual respect for how far the countries, especially India, have come in terms of the forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Emphasising on the Make in India initiative, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the government is encouraging participation from Indian industries. Keeping in mind the necessity and dependence on technology, he said that the country should go ahead with the development of indigenous technologies. Praising the timing of the event, he felt that NewsX and The Sunday Guardian’ Aerospace Summit was a timely step in the right direction.