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Leveraging both MSMEs, start-up ecosystem has been Army's focus area: Gen Pande


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NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande said leveraging both the MSMEs and the start-up ecosystem has been a "focus area" for the force as part of the pursuit of "Atmanirbharta" in meeting the capability development requirements.

Gen Pande said this on Monday during a visit to the Maharashtra MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) Defence Expo - 2024 in Pune, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The expo, organised by the government of Maharashtra, showcases the indigenous capabilities and innovations of the MSMEs, private companies, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratories, and Defence Public Sector Unit (DPSU) setups in Maharashtra, it said.

Gen Pande said in his keynote address that Maharashtra deserves a mention for being one of the major contributors to the nation's economy, industrial growth, exports and FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) attractiveness.

The state was the first in India to frame a defence manufacturing policy after private investment was allowed in the sector, the statement quoted him as saying.

"Leveraging both the MSMEs and the start-up ecosystem has been a focus area for the Indian Army, as part of the Atmanirbharta pursuit, in meeting our capability development requirements," he said.

The Army chief noted that under the Innovations in Defence Excellence (iDEX) route for procurement, all projects are mandated to be progressed through start-ups.

"Currently, under the iDEX route, 55 Indian Army projects worth Rs 400 crore are being pursued, which encompass a total of 65 start-ups. Four contracts worth Rs 70 crore have been concluded for procurement of equipment in limited quantities for field exploitation. The iDEX route also follows the spiral mode of development of indigenous technology and platforms, since exploitation of limited quantities in field conditions enables concurrent development of equipment based on user recommendations," he said.

Gen Pande mentioned the Army's in-house Ideas & Innovation initiative and informed the gathering about two innovations and the technology transferred to the industry for mass production, namely VIDYUT RAKSHAK -- an Internet of Things (IoT)-based generator protection system -- and a biomedical device.

He mentioned that the Army's endeavour to promote innovation also entails pursuing Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) for the products developed in collaboration with the industry.

The Army chief highlighted that 66 IPRs have been filed by the Indian Army to date, of which 13 patents, five copyrights and five design registrations were granted.

Highlighting the economic growth made by India, he said the nation is witnessing "improved consumer affluence", better standards of living, higher literacy quotient and rising aspirations of citizens.

He appreciated the steps taken by government agencies and the Armed Forces in policy reforms, skilling initiatives, infrastructure investment, digital potential, frontline entrepreneurship and said these signify the commitment to sustainable development and the promise of being a reliable supply-chain stakeholder.

At the expo, the Indian Army displayed its indigenous equipment and systems such as Tank T-90, BMP Mk-II, Soltam Gun, Dhanush Howitzer, K-9 Vajra, Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher, Sarvatra Bridge System, Schilka Gun and Fly Catcher Radar of Army Air Defence, Tavor, Sig Sauer & M4 Assault Rifles, AK-47, Sniper Rifles and various other weapons and equipment.

Gen Pande also interacted with members of the participating industries and encouraged them to align their products and services with the Army's future requirements. He urged everyone to collectively contribute to the aspirations, goals and objectives of a rising India, through the resolve and commitment to "Atmanirbharta".

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