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Self-reliance in defence equipment manufacturing crucial for maintaining India's strategic autonomy: Rajnath Singh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addresses the gathering at 'Start Up Manthan 2021' during Aero India 2021 in Bengaluru, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. Also seen are Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar. A PTI Photo

BENGALURU (PTI):  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said attaining self-reliance in manufacturing of defence equipment is a crucial factor for maintaining Indias strategic autonomy.

The Minister also asked officials to increase the grants that the startups under iDEX (Innovations for Defence Excellence) receive.

"I spoke to Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and he too expressed his worry that the amount our iDEX startups get is less. I ask our Secretary Defence Production and Secretary Defence to see that it is increased in some way. I feel that it is too less," Singh said.

Speaking at the "Startup Manthan" at the Aero India-2021 here, he said, attaining self-reliance in the manufacturing of defence equipment is a crucial factor for maintaining Indias strategic autonomy.

"The iDEX initiative stands out as one of the most effective and well-executed defence Start-up ecosystems created in our country. I believe it is a decisive step towards achieving self-reliance in the true spirit of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat campaign," he added.

Launched in April 2018, iDEX aims to achieve self - reliance and foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia.

iDEX has partnered with leading incubators in the country to provide hand holding, technical support and guidance to the winners of iDEX challenges.

A resounding success since its launch, the Startup India programme today boasts an ecosystem of more than 41,000 startups and 4.7 lakh jobs reported by them, Singh said, noting Rs 4,500 crore investment had been made in 384 startups through the Fund of Funds scheme.

In such an ecosystem, it will not be an exaggeration to say the country's economy was soon going to be driven by these startups, he said, adding the government was acutely conscious that startups being latest entrants in the defence manufacturing sector required that "extra push".

"With this aim in view, we have taken many steps to foster and encourage this part of the private industry, like- opening of patent laboratories of DRDO to private industry, setting up of young scientist labs in niche technology areas ...," he added.

Singh noted that in the aerospace sector itself 300 plus start-ups are currently engaged and under iDEX, 10 start-ups have developed products worth Rs 100 crore which have been displayed at Aero India 21.

"I am very happy to announce that 45 MSMEs who have participated in Aero India have already got orders worth Rs 203 crore. This is a very heartening news and I am sure it will grow further in the times to come," he said.


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