In the recently held DEFEXPO at Chennai, the participation and footfall from the stake holders from Foreign as well as Indian industry and the Defence Services witnessed a dip, mainly due to reasons as its focus was other than its intended purpose. In the recent past DEFEXPOs has become a political tool rather than focus on main theme “India: The Emerging Defence Hub”.
The Make in India regime, which talks big on private sector participation, not a single major contract of significance has been awarded. With the expectations that the Private sector will be given opportunity under the Buy Indian / Make Indian, Strategic Partnership etc categories in reasonable time, the investment and capacities were created for manufacture defence items. With the present scenario, as far as private industry is concerned, defence is now a stagnant sector and 'Make in India' in defence is floundering. Companies that took the plunge and hired big in anticipation for orders are now retrenching staff and finding difficult to pay back loans.
On the contrary, the order book of the state-owned entities have been swelling without competitive process, imagine the DPSU shipyards are loaded with orders for almost for next 20 years. With a captive customer base, the state owned defence design and development and manufacturing outfits are just cut and pasteand predominantly assembler of systems for the Indian military. The Indian defence establishment is also quite content with import, and the happiness is ingrained in its strategic planning and in the way defence procurement and industrial affairs are handled.
To project India as the next hub of defence production and manufacturing, it is essential to show case the private sector participation in the defence sector in transforming India into a defence industrial base. Indian industry is capable of building 'system of systems with ability to realise them through the value chain. The need of the hour is to transform and there is certainly some change in mind-sets in treating private Industry as part of National endeavour by the MoD, however there is still a long way to go to create true trust based relationships. General sentiments during DEFEXPO were if India is to emerge defence manufacturing hub and self - reliant in defence equipment it must create innovative eco system in defence manufacturing.