By A Correspondent
New Delhi: India’s biennial event DefExpo next month in Gandhinagar, Gujarat will be an Indian companies-only exhibition this time, the Ministry of Defence said today. The event shall focus on building businesses for Indian companies and to boost exports of aerospace and defence equipment by Indian companies.
To review the preparations being made for DefExpo, India’s Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar held a meeting of the Apex Committee of the organisers here today, in which Gujarat state Chief Secretary Pankaj Kumar was present, and attended by all relevant officials, the ministry statement said.
The 12th edition of the DefExpo will be held from Oct. 18 to 22, but the business days will be conducted on the first three days of the event, while the last two days shall be open session for the general public, it was announced on Aug. 8 by the defence ministry.
This is the first time Gujarat state is hosting this event, as India had begun to rotate the hosting city since 2016 when it was first moved out of Delhi to Goa, followed by Chennai in 2018 and Lucknow in 2020. Till 2014, Delhi’s Pragati Maidan was its permanent venue, but had to be shifted out two years later, as the exhibition centre in the heart of the national capital went through a series of renovations and rebuilding since.
The Gandhinagar edition will be the first time DefExpo will be a four-venue format. The event “promises to engage the public and inspire them to join the aerospace and defence manufacturing sector; for ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence,” the ministry said in its statement.
The DefExpo 2022 was scheduled originally from Mar. 10 to 14, but was postponed due to “logistical challenges” being faced by participating companies and its executives due to COVID-related travel restrictions at that stage.
“The forthcoming edition is the first-ever edition exclusively for Indian companies. For DefExpo 2022, Indian companies, Indian subsidiaries of Foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (FOEMs), division of companies registered in India, exhibitors having Joint Ventures with Indian companies will be considered as Indian participants,” the ministry statement said.
The theme of DefExpo 2022 is ‘Path to Pride’ and in consonance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to transform India into a strong and self-reliant nation by supporting, showcasing and forging partnerships for the Indian aerospace and defence manufacturing sectors with Indian as well as global customers.
“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,” the defence ministry said.
Keeping with ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ (75th year of Indian Independence) celebrations, DefExpo 2022 shall have the largest-ever total area of over 100,000 square metre space, compared to the previous edition’s 76,000 sqm.
The inaugural ceremony and seminars will be held at Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre (MMCEC), exhibition at Helipad Exhibition Centre (HEC), live demonstrations on all five days at Sabarmati River Front (SRF) and ship visits for public by Indian Coast Guard at Porbandar.
The biggest drone show by the indigenous IIT-Delhi start-up Botlabs (an iDEX winner) has also been organised, which will be another highlight of the mega-event. The sale of space had commenced from Aug. 15, and, thus far, over 1,000 exhibitors have registered, and the participating companies’ numbers are anticipated to be the highest-ever recorded.
In the run-up to the event, a nation-wide reach out has been undertaken, inviting the states to set-up pavilions, and thereby partake in nation-building through enhancing indigenous defence manufacturing. Many States have assured of participation as a state pavilion.
The enhanced number of State Pavilions, which is at present eight, would also provide the opportunity for chief ministers, industries ministers, and chief secretaries to solicit investment and promote their respective states, thus cultivating more centres for indigenous aerospace and defence manufacturing within the country. Also, towards greater participation by start-ups and MSMEs, 50 per cent discount on space pricing has been offered.
Additionally, a National Defence MSME Conclave and Exhibition was successfully held for the first time at Kota, Rajasthan on Sep. 11 and 12 with Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of the People, or lower house of the bicameral parliament) Om Birla and Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt attending. A static display by the Indian Army’s indigenous platforms and drone show by Botlabs was held in Kota.
The India Pavilion – a marquee pavilion of the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence – will showcase the maturity of indigenous defence products, start-ups, latest technology, including Artificial Intelligence in defence, and will present India’s vision for 2047. It has been named ‘Path to Pride’.
DefExpo 2022 will also mark the celebration of one year of the formation of the seven new defence companies, carved out of the erstwhile Ordnance Factories. All these companies will be participating for the first time at DefExpo.
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, apart from industry seminars during the DefExpo 2022.