New Delhi: To promote ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence and innovation, a number of big-ticket announcements were made by Defence minister Rajnath Singh during the plenary session of ‘Swavlamban 2.0’, the two-day seminar of Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO), which commenced in New Delhi on October 04, 2023. The main highlight was the release of the fifth Positive Indigenisation List of Department of Military Affairs (DMA) comprising 98 items. Highly complex systems, sensors, weapons and ammunition have been included in the list. All these items will be procured from indigenous sources as per provisions given in Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 in staggered timeline.
Mr Singh also launched 76 challenges for the industry under 10th Defence India Start-up Challenges (DISC 10) & DISC 10 PRIME of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) and five problem statements under iDEX for Fauji. In addition, two INDUS X challenges under ‘INDUS-X Mutual Promotion of Advanced Collaborative Technologies’ (IMPACT) challenges jointly finalised by iDEX and United States Department of Defense (US DoD) were launched by the Defence minister . He also released the Indian Navy’s updated Indigenisation Roadmap ‘Swavlamban 2.0’. A special interactive session for the industry to explain the nuances of the roadmap is planned on Day 2 of the seminar.
In his address, Mr Singh appreciated the fact that the SPRINT innovative challenge, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the maiden Swavlamban seminar in 2022 to promote the use of indigenous technology and products in the Navy, has helped in taking the country forward in becoming self-reliant in the defence sector. He credited the Prime Minister’s visionary leadership for driving the country ahead in mission mode free from doubt and full of confidence. India’s defence sector is currently riding on the boat of innovation, he said, lauding iDEX for providing the youth with a platform to innovate and develop new products, which not only ensures the progress of the start-ups, but also strengthens the country’s defence ecosystem.
The Defence minister was of the view that India has always been self-reliant in the field of knowledge & innovation and when the present Government came to power in 2014, it re-kindled the feeling of being ‘Aatmanirbhar’ in every sector. “Due to foreign invasions, we had forgotten our innovative approach. The word ‘local’ became synonymous with low quality. We’re now freeing ourselves from that mentality. Our Prime Minister launched the ‘Vocal for Local’ campaign and restored respect for local goods. Our youth are now recognising their inner strength and eliminating inner doubts. In the coming times, they will play a big role in the development of the country with their innovative approach and knowledge,” he said.
While Singh commended Department of Defence Production for playing a crucial role in building a self-reliant India through initiatives such as iDEX, NIIO and Technology Development Acceleration Cell (T-DAC), he stated that increased efforts are needed to connect the youth with the defence sector, especially R&D and manufacturing. He also gave a number of suggestions to further improve the efficiency of iDEX.
The Defence minister called for a careful assessment of the technology challenges – whether they are state-of-the-art as per today’s time and whether any better technology is expected in the near future. He stressed the need to ascertain whether a technology is already available somewhere in the market or “we’re just re-inventing the wheel”. He also pointed out that it is essential to assess the viability of a technology from the point of view of the economy. This will provide a better value for money on your R&D expenditure, he said. He pitched for devising a robust mechanism which conducts this analysis before the introduction of any technology or challenge. For this, he said, DDP, DRDO and the Armed Forces can together form an independent body of experts, which can further improve the analysis mechanism.
Mr Singh also recommended the assessment of products and technologies, developed during the previous challenges, as to where they are placed In the market. He stated that in case there are any shortcomings, improvements should be made in that direction. “If there are 50 challenges and all of them are being achieved, it means that we need to increase the level of challenge. This will provide a push to innovation,” he added.
The Defence minister stressed on constant evaluation of work to move forward. He stated that the challenge may be named SPRINT, but there is a need to move ahead like a marathon race. “We don’t just have to cover a few metres; we have to travel miles. It is both SPRINT and MARATHON,” he said.