Acknowledging the significance of MSMEs and startups in India's defence capabilities, the government said that both small businesses and startups need to come together for India's defence manufacturing. While Subhash Chandra, Secretary, Department of Defence Production (DDP), Ministry of Defence talked about their integration into the defence manufacturing ecosystem, he said that startups and MSMEs also have to be encouraged by the armed forces and not just by the defence public sector companies.
MSMEs contribute significantly to defence manufacturing primarily at the sub-system and component level even as 50 per cent of India's manufacturing manpower is engaged in MSMEs, according to DDP. The department had launched Scheme for Promotion of MSMEs in Defence in July this year to organise conclave or seminars in tier-II and tier-III cities to provide them with necessary information about Make in India programme in defence, exports, and global market opportunities available.
Chandra, speaking at a FICCI seminar, stressed on the need for the collaboration between the industry and defence and required support that DDP would offer to solve any industry concerns. "Industry concerns have also been taken into consideration and demystifying of work processes will come only through interactions. The three-armed forces also need to open their doors for discussions with the industry," he said.
The total defence outlay in this year's budget was Rs 3,18,931.22 crore excluding defence pensions for which Rs 1,12,079.57 crore was provided in the budget. India was the second-largest importer of arms between 2014 and 2018 with 9.5 per cent of the global total, as per a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. To cut down dependence on imports, the country will have to spend on research and development (R&D). "We will be able to proceed only if we spend on R&D. That has been our greatest weakness. Unless we invest in R&D, unless we think of future generation requirements, we will always be playing catch-up," said Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane, Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Indian Army.