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Army Western Command chief bats for indigenous production of defence equipment

CHANDIGARH (PTI): A senior Indian Army officer has laid emphasis on indigenous manufacturing of defence equipment and the role of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in it, saying it is essential to go local to capitalise on the capabilities.

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Army's Western Command Lt Gen Nav K Khanduri on Tuesday said the armed forces, MSMEs and the academia need to come together to enhance the role of MSMEs in defence manufacturing.

"It is essential to go local and indigenous to capitalize on the capabilities...," he said at an event.

He was here to take part in a conference on "opportunities for MSMEs in the defence manufacturing ecosystem in north India", organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Northern Region and the Army's Western Command headquarters.

Later, replying to questions of reporters, Lt Gen Khanduri said, "As far as we (Western Command) are concerned, right from the very beginning we have been saying that we need to have our own indigenous production."

"...we are a country which is on the move, is rising. India is poised to be a great power. And I would state that no country can aspire to be a great country on borrowed technology. Hence the importance of indigenous technology," Khanduri told reporters.

According to a CII release, Khanduri highlighted four critical challenges faced by the defence sector.

Firstly, the need for adequate funding and capital infusion into research and development (R&D). The Indian Army has already initiated allocations for R&D.

Among others, he said, there is a need for a mechanism for continuous maintenance and sustenance of the equipment. Lastly, quality assurance for establishing a connection with MSMEs or manufacturers and ensuring that the quality meets the requirements.

Speaking to reporters, he said, "...we do have legacy equipment...which needs to be maintained. But the replacement to the same has got to be indigenous. That is why the participation between the armed forces, industry, MSMEs, the acamedia, all put together, through synergy, I think we can achieve the vision that we have laid for ourselves."

Asked about repeated drone intrusions from across the border in Punjab, Khanduri said, " far as counter measures are concerned, we do have our indigenous equipment that is being validated and fielded.

"So, if you look at recent reports in Punjab, in last about four months, about 22-23 drones and quadcopters have been brought down. And that is utilising indigenous capacity or the equipment that is manufactured within India. So, there is adequate amount of preparation that is being done and requisite action being taken at all levels," he said.

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