FICCI-MoD Defense Conclave highlights crucial role of MSMEs in Defense Indigenisation

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FICCI in partnership with MoD, organized a State Level Defense MSMEs Conclave held on Wednesday with the theme of “Atmanirbhar Gujarat: Upgrading the MSMEs in Defense”. The Conclave delved into the strategies aligned with the government’s vision to nurture the domestic defense industry, with a focus on the indispensable contribution of MSMEs.

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have a critical role to play in increasing indigenization and advancing atmanirbharta (self-reliance) in defense manufacturing, experts underscored at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FICCI) event.

The State Level Defense MSMEs Conclave brought together stakeholders such as members of the defense ministry, defense industry, MSMEs and startups. It also featured insightful talks on opportunities for defense MSMEs, recent policy reforms in defense, positive indigenization lists, and incentives being provided in technology development fund (TDF) projects and startups.

Delivering the Keynote Address, Mr. Amit Satija, IAS, Director DIP, Department of Defense Production, Ministry of Defense, emphasized the vital role of MSMEs in India’s GDP, manufacturing output, exports and employment generation.

“The Government has a clear focus on promoting the growth of MSMEs. Defense is one area where we have seen a lot of progress. We have achieved defense manufacturing output of INR 1 lakh crore and all-time highest exports of INR 16,000 crore. The government has undertaken various reforms such as liberalization of FDI policy, launch of iDEX scheme and SRIJAN portal, and setting up defence corridors, to promote self-reliance and Make in India in defense,” Mr Satija said.

Delivering the Welcome Remarks in beginning, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Chairman, FICCI Gujarat State Council, spoke about the crucial role of MSMEs in developing high-quality, precision products for the defense sector.

“However, it is also important to keep in mind that the foundational step in leveraging MSME support involves guidance and support of large-scale system integrators encompassing PSUs, private sector and foreign OEMs. It is also crucial to establish defence MSME clusters to attract large-scale industry investments, aligning with the government’s Make in India mission,” he said.

FICCI aims to collaborate with over 16,000 MSMEs operating in the defense sector to help the country take significant strides towards indigenization by sourcing components from them and also enhancing their export capabilities, he added.

Sanjiv Mulgaonkar, Vice President – Head Guns and Armoured Systems, L&T Defense, shed light on the role of MSMEs in the defense supply chain.

“We take pride in the indigenization of defense manufacturing. We have many MSMEs who are supplying us with components. We cannot make everything in-house and need more vendors to enhance what we are doing,” Mr Mulgaonkar said.

Mr. Hiranmay Mahanta, CEO, iHub Gujarat, outlined iHub’s role in developing an innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Gujarat by creating pathways from “Mind to Market”.

“We are supporting the three big M problems faced by startups – money, mentorship and market – by linking students, academia, and industry. We handhold startups right from proof of concept to investment opportunities,” he said.

Presenting the Vote of Thanks, Ms. Preiti Patel, Chairperson, FICCI Gujarat State Council’s Task Force on Defence, said the prime minister’s vision to open defense manufacturing to the private sector is the first step towards achieving self-reliance in defense and spoke about the role of enabling policies, simplification of procedures, and initiatives to handhold MSMEs.

Some of the other esteemed speakers at the conclave –

  • Mr. PP Maheshkar, OSD Indigenization, Department of Defense Production;
  • Mr. Unni Raj PS, Joint Director, Export Promotion Cell, Department of Defense Production;
  • Mr. Nilesh M Desai, Director, Space Applications Centre (SAC)-ISRO, Ahmedabad;
  • Cdr Gautam Nanda (Retd), Associate Partner, KPMG;
  • Mr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief General Manager, SIDBI;
  • Mr. Vipin Yadav, Deputy Program Director, iDEX, Department of Defence Production;
  • Mr Rahul Bhokare, Director and Co-Founder; and
  • Col Ashish Pradhan, Secy Make PMU, Army Design Bureau

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