April 12, 2018 6:00:08 am
Tamil Nadu will soon become a major defence manufacturing hub in the region, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday, on the first day of the four-day defence expo being held on the outskirts of Chennai.
Asked by the media about purchase of India-made defence products by the Indian armed forces, the minister said the forces make their own decisions in purchasing weapons.
“As I am promoting India-made defence products elsewhere, I am also telling our forces to use them more,” she said. “(But) even if the government has enthusiasm about production capabilities and its export worthiness, decisions about purchasing weapons and such items are taken themselves…by the Army and Navy. They take a final call on those matters….
“They are doing it, they are buying India-made products, but that may not be as much as you or me want,” she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to formally inaugurate the event on Thursday. About protests by Tamil groups and political parties against Modi’s visit, Sitharaman said there is no change in his travel plan.
Sitharaman said Tamil Nadu has been selected for the event with a clear purpose, as it lies in one of the two proposed defence corridors in the country.
“We have chosen this place for many reasons, including cultural and historical — (it was) once a coastal belt used by Chola Kingdom, and a region that connected India with Southeast Asian countries,” she said.
Asserting the importance of more private partnership in the defence sector, she said India has to excel in the defence manufacturing sector by achieving a significant role —- to the level it has already achieved in automobile and pharmaceutical sectors —- in foreign market. She said there is an increasing demand for India-made missiles but refused to name these countries.
Sitharaman said the essential plan behind strengthening the defence manufacturing sector is to produce tech-savvy, hi-tech manufacturing products, and to make it easier from the point of policy to regulations to buying and contracts, etc. Manufacturers in the private sector should come together to make this achievable, and “this is the time to open up such conversations,” she said.
MoU signed, key US firms in expo
On the sidelines of the event, Mahindra Group has signed an MoU with a Japanese firm to manufacture and assemble Amphibious Aircraft US-2. The Japanese company, ShinMaywa Industries Limited, is the manufacturer of the planes, which are to be made in India now. Mahindra will set up Maintenan-ce, Repair and Overhaul units soon, it was stated. The partnership between two companies also includes an understanding for transfer of technology for this large amphibious aircraft in India. At least 19 US firms are among those taking part in the Expo.
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