Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday hailed the public-private collaboration in defence manufacturing and exuded confidence that soon India will make military products not just for domestic use, but for the entire world. He said handing over of Multi-Mode Hand Grenades (MMHG), manufactured by a Nagpur-based private firm and considered highly lethal, but safer to use, to the Indian Army was a big step towards self-reliance in defence manufacturing and a shining example of the increasing collaboration between public and private sectors.
Singh said value of India's defence exports stood at over Rs 17,000 crore in the last two years.The first batch of one lakh MMHG, manufactured by Economic Explosives Ltd (EEL) following transfer of technology from Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), was handed over to the Army in the presence of Singh at a function here, a PIB (Defence Wing) press release said.
Speaking at the function, Singh said, Today is a memorable day in the history of Indian defence sector. Our private industry is coming of age when it comes to defence production."It is an important milestone not only in the field of defence manufacturing, but also in achieving 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) as envisioned by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Singh lauded DRDO and EEL for the speedy delivery of the MMHG order amidst COVID-19 restrictions and hoped of a faster delivery of the next lot of the explosive weapon, which will replace grenades of World War I vintage still used by the Army. He listed the measures undertaken by the Centre to transform the defence sector into a self-reliant industry which can cater to the present and the future needs of the armed forces.
These included setting up of defence industrial corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, formulation of draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) 2020, earmarking around 64 per cent of its modernisation funds under capital acquisition budget for 2021-22 for procurement from domestic companies.Other steps mentioned by Singh included notifying two positive indigenisation lists of over 200 items to promote self-reliance and defence exports, corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), increasing FDI limit from 49 to 74 per cent under automatic route and beyond 74 per cent through government route.
The defence minister also made special mention about another initiative taken by the government - that is technology transfer to Industries by DRDO. Describing these measure as the "backbone" of the defence industry, he lauded DRDO for being an incubator which is undertaking free of cost transfer of technologies as well as providing access to testing facilities and over 450 patents. This has not only enabled the industry to use ready-to-use technologies, but has also saved time, energy and money, Singh said.
Singh spoke about the importance of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), saying it aims to achieve self-reliance, foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace sectors by engaging industries, including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia. Under this initiative, problems being faced by the armed forces, defence PSUs and OFB are identified and brought before entrepreneurs, MSMEs, start-ups and innovators through Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) to find solutions, he said.
Singh commended the Indian industry for indigenously developing products like 'Multi-Mode Grenade', 'Arjun-Mark-1' tank, 'Unmanned Surface Vehicle' and 'See Through Armor'. Such products are not just being produced, but also exported on a large scale. The number of online export authorisations during 2016-17 and 2018-19 was 1,210. It has increased to 1,774 in the last two years. This has resulted in defence exports of over Rs 17,000 crore in the last two years, he added.
Singh exuded confidence that soon India will manufacture defence products not just for domestic use, but for the whole world."The grenade (MMHG) is not just more lethal, but is safer to use. It has a distinctive design that gives flexibility of employment in both defensive (fragmentation) and offensive (stun) modes. It has a highly accurate delay time, very high reliability in usage and safe for carriage.
"These new grenades will replace Grenade No 36 of World War I vintage design, which had been continuing in service till date," he said. EEL had signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence on October 1, 2020, to supply 10 lakh modern hand grenades for the Army and the Indian Air Force. The deliveries would be spread over two years from the bulk production clearance, which was accorded to EEL in March 2021, the release said.
The first order has been delivered within five months, it added.Singh was handed over a scale replica of MMHG by chairman of EEL S N Nuwal to mark the first delivery of ammunition from the private sector to the armed forces, it said.
Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane, Chairman of DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy and Infantry DG Lt Gen AK Samantra were present on the occasion.