Amid COVID-19 lockdown, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that the defence sector is "more aggravated" than other sectors as the only buyer of Defence products is the government.
Acknowledging the hardships faced by the Defence industry, Rajnath Singh said, "Manufacturing sector has been affected the most due to lockdown and disruption in existing supply chains and the defence sector is no exception to this. Rather, it can be said that the Defence sector is more aggravated than other sectors as the only buyer of defence products is the government."
The Minister was addressing, via video conference, MSMEs E-conclave, jointly organised by SIDM, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Department of Defence Production.
The Defence Minister appreciated the role played by Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) and other Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nation''s fight against global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"I am very happy to know that SIDM has accelerated the manufacturing of DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) designed PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits, masks, ventilator parts in the field of defence industry by efficient coordination and channelisation. Within less than two months, we have not only met our domestic demand, but we can also think of helping neighbouring countries in the coming time," he said.
Mr Singh termed MSMEs backbone of the Indian economy that accelerate GDP growth, earn valuable foreign exchange through exports and provide employment opportunities.
"There are more than 8,000 MSMEs, tiered partners of many of our organisations - Ordnance factories, DPSUs and service organisations. They contribute more than 20 per cent of the total production of these organisations," he said. The Defence Minister assured that the ''Atma Nirbhar Bharat'' campaign, inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will provide many opportunities to Indian industry and will help in restoring millions of jobs.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for being ''vocal for local'' in this direction. I would like to say that we have to have our indigenous products, ie ''vocal for local'', but before that in our own life, ''local'' has to be focal. That is, we have to adopt ''swadeshi'' products in our life. There is no doubt that MSMEs have a very important role in the goal of indigenous manufacturing, and in the goal of self-reliant India," he said. He also mentioned some of the measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman under ''Atma Nirbhar Bharat'' scheme.
The theme of the E-conclave was ''Business Continuity for MSMEs in Defence & Aerospace Sector'' in which more than 800 Defence MSMEs participated.Citing the example of the United States where domestic defence industry developed within a short span of two years during the World War-II, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said India should have its own defence industry. He urged the MSMEs to work for placing India among the top ten nations in defence technologies.Secretary (Defence Production), Raj Kumar in his address highlighted the measures taken to alleviate the hardships faced by defence manufacturing industry due to COVID-19. He said the DPSUs have been asked to clear payments of MSMEs, and also announced that their production targets have not been scaled down.
Citing the reforms recently announced by the Finance Minister, he said these measures will help realise the target of achieving a USD 25 billion defence production by 2025.