Chief of Army Staff Visits Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024 at Pune

Pune: General Manoj Pande, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), visited the Maharashtra MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) Defence Expo 2024 held at the International Exhibition Convention Centre, Moshi, Pune, on February 26, 2024.

Organized by the Government of Maharashtra, the expo showcased the indigenous capabilities and innovations of MSMEs, private companies, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratories, and Defence Public Sector Unit (DPSU) establishments in the state.

General Pande Commends Maharashtra's Contribution to Defence Sector:

In his keynote address delivered to MSMEs and students, General Pande lauded Maharashtra's significant contribution to the nation's economy, industrial growth, exports, and foreign direct investment (FDI) attractiveness. He acknowledged the state's pioneering role in crafting a Defence Manufacturing Policy after private investment was permitted in the sector. He further commended Maharashtra for designating aerospace and defence manufacturing as a thrust sector under its 'Package Scheme of Incentives.' These initiatives have resulted in the state contributing over 20% of the country's output in aircraft, ships, and boats, and 30% of the national output in weapons and ammunition, reflecting a strategic vision towards promoting the Defence Industrial Sector.

COAS Highlights India's Economic Growth and Defence Procurement Reforms:

General Pande highlighted the economic progress achieved by India, marked by improved consumer affluence, better living standards, a higher literacy rate, and the rising aspirations of its citizens. He commended the government agencies and armed forces for their efforts in policy reforms, skilling initiatives, infrastructure investment, harnessing digital potential, and fostering frontline entrepreneurship. These actions, he stated, signify the nation's commitment to sustainable development and its potential to be a reliable supply chain stakeholder.

Focus on Atmanirbharta and Fostering Innovation:

General Pande emphasized the Indian Army's focus on leveraging both MSMEs and the startup ecosystem as part of its pursuit of Atmanirbharta (self-reliance) to meet its capability development requirements. He elaborated on the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative, under which all procurement projects are mandated to progress through startups. He informed the audience that 55 Indian Army projects, valued at Rs 400 crore, are currently being pursued through the iDEX route, involving a total of 65 startups. Four contracts worth Rs 70 crore have been concluded for the procurement of equipment in limited quantities for field testing. The iDEX route follows the "Spiral Mode" of development for indigenous technology and platforms, allowing for concurrent development based on user feedback obtained from field deployment of limited quantities.

The COAS also mentioned the Indian Army's in-house Ideas & Innovation initiative, highlighting two innovations: VIDYUT RAKSHAK, an IoT-based generator protection system, and a biomedical device, whose technology has been transferred to the industry for mass production. He emphasized the Indian Army's commitment to promoting innovation by pursuing Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) for products developed in collaboration with the industry. As of today, the Indian Army has filed 66 IPRs, with 13 patents, 5 copyrights, and 5 design registrations granted.

Indian Army Showcases Indigenous Equipment:

During the expo, the Indian Army displayed a range of its indigenous equipment and systems, including the T-90 tank, BMP Mk-II infantry combat vehicle, Soltam gun, Dhanush howitzer, K-9 Vajra self-propelled artillery, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher, Sarvatra bridge system, Schilka self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, Fly Catcher radar, Tavor, Sig Sauer, and M4 assault rifles, Ak-47 rifles, sniper rifles, and various other weapons and equipment.

COAS Encourages Collaboration and Atmanirbharta:

General Pande interacted with participating industries and encouraged them to align their products and services with the future requirements of the Indian Army. He urged all stakeholders to collectively contribute to the aspirations, goals, and objectives of a "Rising India" through their resolve and commitment to Atmanirbharta.


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