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VEHICLE FOR INDIGENISATION OF DEFENCE INDUSTRY

The aim of the UPDICO must remain to serve the armed forces with high quality and relatively
cheaper option than importing exorbitantly costly equipment. Also, it must aim to increase the
percentage of indigenous components in their manufacturing.

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd.)

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Indian Army

One of the primary vehicles for indigenisation of defence industry is the establishment of the north and south corridors. UP Government has nominated UP Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) as the nodal agency to steer the activities of UPDICO.

Future wars are likely to be fought in domains hitherto unforeseen. Days of tanks, guns, kinetics and firepower may still remain in vogue but war fighting will shift decisively into domains of cyber space, aerospace and information space driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data Analytics, and Internet of Things (IoTs). Not that the era of conventional weapon platforms is passé; they will remain relevant albeit at lower priority of use. 

Since manufacturing units of conventional weapon platforms are well established in various parts of the country, proposed defence corridors are unlikely to attract production of main stream manufacturers of defence systems. Therefore, it will be advisable to set up manufacturing units of force-multiplier and niche technology-based defence weapon and equipment in the proposed corridors. They must shape up as hubs of state of the art defence technologies focusing on wars of the future. This will inevitably propel India into a global leadership of defence technologies. The statement appears like a dream but unless we start dreaming, we can’t innovate and produce. Aatmanirbhar Bharat will key in perfectly if the Defence Industry Corridor projects focus on technologies of future warfare. 

Measures to promote indigenisation: The government is tackling indigenization of defence production on a fast track despite the fallout of Covid-19. India’s goal of self-reliance in defence, generation of direct/indirect employment opportunities and growth of private domestic manufacturers, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Start-ups would be very well served with the suggested approach of Defence Corridor Programme. The Defence Ministry’s recent initiative of promulgating a negative list of 101 defence items that cannot be procured through import route will further boost the growth of the Industrial Corridor. The negative list has been well formulated as it has in the interim given time for the defence forces to continue with import of some crucial technologies required for capability development.

 At the same time inclusion of some state-of-the-art technologies to be manufactured indigenously will challenge the indigenous players to produce them on fast track by laying down a time limit before which the indigenous production of the concerned defence items must begin. Within this period, country’s manufacturing establishments and units including PSUs will have to come up with indigenous options. Addition of the Buy – Indigenise, Design, Develop, and Manufacture (Buy-IDDM) clause is likely to expedite the Make in India programme of the country. Further, since reorganization of the MoD and appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), MoD has already sanctioned indigenous procurement of major weapons amounting to Rs 5,100 crore earlier this year and Rs 2,290 crore announced by Rajnath Singh on 28 September 2020. In fact, on 27 August 2020 the RM had announced the procurement of defence products worth Rs. 1.40 lakh crores domestically. This is a welcome development; it should give hope to small, medium, and big enterprises to invest in the Defence Corridors on a war footing since the government is creating the necessary demand pull on the Indian Defence Industry besides spurring innovation.

 Defence Acquisition Programme 2020: Giving further impetus to the indigenisation push, the RM released the new DAP 2020. The salient highlights are firstly, the DAP 2020 has aligned itself with Aatmanirbharta and facilitates indigenization of defence industry through Make 2 initiative. Secondly, it has a vision to transform India into a global defence manufacturing hub. Thirdly, it includes provisions to encourage FDI to establish manufacturing hubs both for import substitution and exports by allowing 74% FDI in defence production industry while also protecting the interests of Indian domestic industry. Fourthly, it contains a new chapter covering enabling provision for Services to procure essential items through Capital Budget under a simplified procedure in a timebound manner. The concerted drive by the Central and the State Governments will definitely give the project the desired impetus. 

UPDICO 

One of the primary vehicles for indigenisation of defence industry is the establishment of the north and south corridors. UP Government has nominated UP Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) as the nodal agency to steer the activities of UPDICO. The nodes of UPDICO are Agra, Aligarh, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Kanpur and Lucknow.(See map) They are well integrated with the Golden Quadrilateral and other expressways.

 This will facilitate the overall manufacturing process since all the nodes are in a turn round time of 12 hours from Delhi thus speeding up the supply chain management. State Government has also announced that most land allocation in various nodes is well on course. Milestones Achieved: As per UPDICO website, the UP government has nominated IIT Kanpur and BHU as the Centres of Excellence (CoE) of Defence Corridor. It has sanctioned Rs. 50 crore and Rs. 69 crore respectively to the two institutions, against this an amount of Rs. 2 crore each has already been released to the two institutions. A commitment to invest Rs. 3700 crore was announced by Defense PSUs in 2018 and 32 MoUs have been signed by some private Industries to set up units in the UPDICO in February 2020. UP Government has also decided to setup Common Facility Centre (CFC), CsoE and skill development centre (SDC) to facilitate the incorporation of best practices, research and development in the manufacturing process. The SDC should target the specific needs of the skills required for Aerospace, Weapon Systems, Ammunition & Explosives, and State of the Art technologies related to electronics and cyber space required by the Industry are likely to come up in the various nodes. The impact of the Defence Corridor initiative would be felt on manufacturing as well as employment generation. The proposal to establish a Defence Park as a joint venture of UPEIDA and IIT, Kanpur on 30 acre land proposed in Shivli near IIT Kanpur is in final stages of approval by the UP Government. Similarly, the setting up of CFC at Lucknow is being initiated, to carryout Prototyping, Designing, Skilling and Incubation etc. This will further boost and encourage MSMEs and SMEs to set up units in the corridor. Given the proximity of Noida, Jhansi, Agra, Lucknow, Aligarh and Kanpur with Delhi the nodes should also attract international players to invest especially post the likely exodus of manufacturing units out of China after COVID 19. The land allotment has also commenced.

 Challenges

 The Problem Areas: Defence Corridor Project in UP appeared to have shown enough promise and progress especially after signing of the 32 MsoU and timely allocation of land in various nodes. But Covid-19 and few systemic problems have impeded the progress? Make in India proposal of the GoI has undergone a number of iterations but the progress on ground has not been very encouraging. Despite revising the policies, increasing FDI beyond 51% (now it stands at 74%) foreign players are not enthusiastic. This could be attributed to many factors such as strangle hold of Defence PSUs, OFB and DRDO which do not provide level playing field for Private Players. Despite the sincerity of private players such as L&T, Tatas, Mahindra, Reliance, Zen Technologies etc., the influence of Defence PSUs, DRDO and OFBs comes in the way of private players. Similarly, lack of hand holding by the Government of MSMEs and SMEs during indigenous development in terms of funding, facilitating foreign partnerships in research, technology transfers development and assured orders or assistance in exports of defence systems acts as a dampener in domestic production. Another area of concern has been skill development for which academic-industry (public & private sector) partnership is essential. The complex nature of defence manufacturing, design, and development especially in the aerospace sector requires a focused program of skill development. It is very encouraging that UP Government is setting up the SDC, Defence Park, and CFC. Development of CFC should target creation of testing facility for various defence systems within the UPDICO. This will help the MSME and SMEs to validate their products within the corridor. It is a matter of pride for UP that it has improved its ranking within the country in “Ease of Doing Business” and stands second in the ranking. Only Andhra Pradesh is ahead of UP which has overtaken leading states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu etc. But what needs to be watched carefully is how well it has reoriented its policy towards facilitating defence manufacturing units only then will UPDICO stand to benefit. Towards this end, publishing of Defence and Aerospace Unit and Employment Promotion Policy (First Amendment) 2019 by the UP Government to attract investments may provide the necessary fillip.

 Additional Observation on the Status of UPDICO: The initial progress has been very encouraging. However, since the MsoU are just promissory in nature and progress needs to be closely monitored by a dedicated team for each industrial sector. Also, the leading industrial houses other than Tata’s are missing from the list. Similarly, adequate number of Foreign OEMs are also not there in the MoU. This aspect needs to be followed up by the UP Government through a high-level committee working in close coordination with the Central Government to attract more players. The opportunity of industries wishing to relocate from China due to its confrontationist attitude on various international matters must be harnessed expeditiously. Another area which is conspicuous by its absence is the niche sectors of AI, robotics, software, and hardware development industries. This is the future and it needs to be given the push it deserves if UPDICO has to emerge as major hub of defence production. Private and Public Sector Undertakings have to be motivated and encouraged with additional sops to come and establish green field manufacturing, designing and development units. 

Future of UPDICO 

UPDICO has taken off well. Despite Covid-19 setback, the UP Government is doing a commendable job to keep the project on track. However, it needs to be now given a qualitative push. Inviting the big players, inducting niche technology sectors such as AI, Big Data Analytics, Robotics, Cyber, and Electronic Warfare technologies. Given the interest shown by the state leadership in UPDICO action in these areas may already be taking place with the other stake holders the MoD, Industry, and Financial institutions. The State Government in consultation with the MoD must also appoint a dedicated and expanded project management team to oversee the progress of various projects in UPDICO. Earlier the team comes into existence better it would be for the Industrial Corridor’s growth and development. It must look at the corridor from an allencompassing perspective of incorporating the needs of Security, Defence, Aerospace and Disaster Management. It must also put in place SOPs to cut out red tape and corrupt practices. As and when the UPDICO starts emerging as a major manufacturing hub, the NDMA, UPSDMC and MHA must establish their response mechanism to deal with any natural and manmade disasters including cyber and electronic space disasters.

 R&D is an important constituent of Aatmanirbharta. Knowledge partners of UPDICO like IIT Kanpur, BHU have to collaborate with DRDO, HAL, BDL, BEL, ISRO, DAE and R&D wings of private industries to feed the manufacturing units with state of the art technologies. The collaboration of Academia, Industry, and Research Organisations is an indispensable need for the UPDICO to progress. Presence of HCL and TCS in the state needs to be exploited for this purpose.

 Development of a nationwide industrial manufacturing ecosystem with seamless connectivity with UPDICO must be ensured for sustaining the industries that come up in the UPDICO. The business model must include import and export facilitation of critical technologies for manufacturing of defence components, equipment, and systems. 

Assured market needs to be ensured for these industries to sustain. A mandatory provision to procure items and products from the hub by the users would go a long way in sustaining the industries that come up in the hub.

 A secondary fallout of the UPDICO would be employment generation. However, for this, the skill development centres and industry academia cooperation is necessary. Tapping the potential of ex- servicemen who have worked in the field of aviation, weapon systems and electronics will greatly assist this problem in the initial stages.

 The aim of the UPDICO must however remain to serve the armed forces with high quality and relatively cheaper option than importing exorbitantly costly equipment. At the same time, it must aim to increase the percentage of indigenous components in their manufacturing to be truly recognised as indigenous entities capable of serving the National Goal of Aatmanirbhar Bharat in Defence Production. To sum it up in the long-run the initiative looks to be promising and will assist India in becoming one of the leading indigenous producers of niche technology driven defence weapons and equipment systems.

 Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd) has served in varied terrains and theatre of operations, in India and in the UN as Military Observer. He has commanded an Infantry Battalion, Brigade and a Division in Jammu and Kashmir. He is currently Professor Emeritus Defence Studies at Gujarat Raksha Shakti University.

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Defence

‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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Defence

SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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Defence

IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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