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Guwahati: The Indian Army's Eastern Command, in collaboration with the Commerce and Industries Department of Assam, is paving the way for a surge in indigenous defense manufacturing, providing a boost to startups and MSMEs. Lieutenant General Rana Pratap Kalita, speaking to Business North East (BNE), outlined the commitment to handhold local defense manufacturers, streamline processes for trials, and facilitate their expansion into forward areas.
Highlighting the recent development, Lt. General Kalita said, "We will handhold the indigenous defense manufacturers, including startups and MSMEs, and we have also streamlined the processes in case if they want to carry out trials and take it to the forward areas."
East Tech 2023, a notable initiative by Indian Army's Eastern Command is showcasing defense manufacturers from across the nation, providing a platform for them to present their products. The event is proving to be instrumental in bridging the gap between businesses and government procurement procedures. Bimal Borah, Commerce and Industries Minister of Assam, emphasized that these Government-to-Business (G2B) meetings are a crucial step toward simplifying procurement processes for defense-related equipment.
The Defense and Space Robotics, a deep tech startup, shared their journey in addressing complex defense challenges. They have been recognized nationally for their work in tunnel detection and are currently incubated under Assam Startup. CEO & Mission Director of DSRL, Arnab Kr. Barman told BNE that, "They also work on border monitoring systems and aim to bridge the gap between civilians and the military through dual technology."
This initiative is driven by the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), an organization under the Ministry of Information and Electronics Technology, Biswajit Saha, Senior Director of CDAC told BNE. He said that, CDAC is collaborating with IIT to create new entities catering to the security and strategic needs of the Indian Army, contributing to India's self-reliance in defense manufacturing.
NorthEast Earth Movers Private Limited introduced light towers for remote and hilly areas where power facilities are scarce. These light towers are versatile, operating on both diesel and electricity. Sankar Purkayastha, GM of the company expects more business avenues through this expo.
A 4G and 5G-based communication system designed for the Indian Army in the northeastern regions was showcased by Coral Telecom Limited, providing solutions for converting older communication technologies. This system represents a significant investment, costing approximately 100 crores, said Mukesh Upreti, Director of Coral Telecom Limited.
Airbornics Defence & Space (ADSL), a JCBL group company and manufacturing partner of Toyota, hailing from Punjab, specializes in combat vehicles, airspace, and element systems. They are looking to expand their business in the armor sector, focusing on NorthEast-specific requirements, Yogesh Kumar, the Business Development Manager of ADSL mentioned.
Meghalaya-based company, Marathon India Ltd exhibited various defense-related products, including jammers, anti-drone technology, and communication devices. Himanshu Dube, Director of the company highlighted the importance of recurring expos to promote enhanced defense technology in the region.
SMPP Pvt. Ltd., a company specializing in bulletproof products that can be used in aircrafts, helicopters, naval vessels and ground platforms. SMPP President, Maj Gen Anil Oberoi (Retd)shared their impressive track record of supplying bulletproof jackets to the Indian Army and their entry into manufacturing large caliber ammunition for tanks and guns.
Big Bang Boom Solutions, under the Ministry of Defense's iDEX (Innovations for Defense Excellence) program, presented anti-drone defense systems and jamming rifles. Vice President of the company, Gaurav Sharma mentioned that these indigenous products manufactures by them have been procured by the Indian Army and Air Force as well.
Another standout exhibit came from a fuel cell-based company, offering soldiers the ability to charge batteries in the field. Their eco-friendly fuel cell generator, designed for high-altitude areas, enhances army efficiency, Vice President Biju Balakrishnan said.
The government's indigenization efforts in defense manufacturing, coupled with increased capital expenditure in the sector, have bolstered defense stocks and fueled substantial growth in the order books of defense companies. Projections indicate significant revenue and earnings growth in the sector, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16% and 13%, respectively.
Commerce and Industries Minister of Assam, Bimal Borah, urged businesses and startups to innovate further and contribute to defense technology, aligning with the government's focus on indigenous defense manufacturing.
Additionally, custom-tailored policies under the Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's leadership aim to encourage investments in the region. Over the past year, investments totaling over 1000 crores have been signed with more than 14 companies. G2B meetings continue to play a vital role in simplifying defense-related equipment manufacturing in Assam.
Minister Borah expressed his gratitude for the positive development initiated by the Indian Army in Assam. The signing of MoUs with Oil India and Coal India further underlines the commitment to fostering youth involvement and encouraging them to join the Indian Army.
The Indian Army is actively collaborating with IIT Guwahati to strengthen its capabilities and enhance defense technology. East Tech 2023 promises to usher in a wave of positive innovations and technological advancements to meet the unique challenges of the Northeast, with a special focus on Assam.
Commerce and Industries Minister Borah urged everyone to engage and contribute groundbreaking innovations to address the region's challenges effectively. East Tech 2023 signifies a pivotal step forward in advancing India's defense capabilities and self-reliance.