Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat (R) during the inaugural ceremony of the Aero India 2021 Airshow at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore on February 3, 2021.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat (R) during the inaugural ceremony of the Aero India 2021 Airshow at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore on February 3, 2021.
MANJUNATH KIRAN / AFP

Bengaluru: India is vigilant in the face of attempts to change status quo at its border and prepared to defeat any misadventures to defend its territorial integrity, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday, amid the continued military standoff with China.

"We have long witnessed unfortunate attempts to employ force to change the status quo at our unresolved borders", he said at the inaugural ceremony of Aero India-2021, the country's premier Defence and aerospace show, at Yelahanka Air Force Station here.

"India is vigilant and prepared to counter and defeat any misadventures to defend our people and territorial integrity at all costs," the Minister asserted.

China and India are locked in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh since May 5 last. The two countries have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks to resolve the face-off, but no significant headway has been made so far.

Dubbed as Asia's largest military aviation exhibition, the three-day Aero India event commenced amid the COVID-19 pandemic with buzz around "Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat" (self-reliant India) and "Make in India" push.

With a combination of both physical and virtual exhibition, the 13th edition of the biennial international event is said to be the world's first hybrid aerospace show.

Singh also said India plans to spend USD 130 billion on Defence modernisation in the next 7-8 years with the focus on domestic manufacturing of bigger and complex platforms.

The government has since 2014 brought in many reforms in the defence sector to create a conducive ecosystem for exports, Foreign Direct Investment and offset discharge, he noted.

To achieve the twin goals of self-reliance and exports, the government has set a target to achieve a turnover of Rs 1,75,000 crore in the field of Defence manufacturing, including export of Rs 35,000 crore in Aerospace and Defence goods and services, by 2024, Singh said.

"We plan to spend USD 130 billion on Defence modernisation in the next seven to eight years", he added.

Like many of its friendly countries, India also faces threats and challenges emanating from multiple fronts, the Defence Minister said, adding, the country was a "victim of state-sponsored and state-inflicted terrorism which is now a global threat".

The government has taken several steps to strengthen the country's security apparatus recently.

Domestic manufacturing of bigger and complex defence platforms has now become the focus of our policy under the 'Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan', he said.

Singh said he has been informed that about 540 exhibitors, including 80 foreign companies, Defence Ministers, Delegates, Service chiefs and officials from more than 55 nations are participating in the Aero India event.

"It reflects the growing optimism of the global community", he said.

Singh also expressed gratitude to the Defence Ministers from Maldives, Ukraine, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Comoros and Madagascar who have attended this show in person, and many others who are joining virtually.

Noting that India today offers a unique opportunity in defence and aerospace manufacturing, he said, this opportunity comes as a 'Sangam' of rising demand, greater innovation, conducive policies and maturing ecosystem in defence and aerospace manufacturing sector.

Over the years, the government has facilitated establishment of wide-ranging production facilities, of various defence equipment through Defence Public Sector Undertakings and Ordnance Factories, he added.

Pointing out that India is one of the fastest growing civil aviation markets in the world, the Defence Minister said, with rising passenger and cargo traffic, demand for aircraft and the related supply chains is increasing.

"India therefore holds a huge potential for investments in the aerospace sector, particularly in manufacturing of aero engines and sub-assemblies as well as in Maintenance Repair & Overhaul, of Aircraft," he said.

Singh invited business leaders from across the globe to take advantage of the various initiatives of the government and set-up manufacturing units in the country.

With focused attention being laid on promotion of exports of defence products from the country, India is steadily marching from Make in India towards Make for the World, Singh said.

A high-level committee has been constituted for authorising exports of major indigenous platforms to various nations, leading to faster approvals, he added.

"Our vision is to make India one of the biggest countries of the world in the Defence sector, from design to production, with active participation of public and private sectors", he added.

Noting that India has a vast coastline and its interests also lie beyond the shores, Singh said it included people who reside and work across continents, especially in the Indian Ocean Region.

It was the government's bounden duty to remain capable and willing to assist them in times of natural calamities and security challenges, he added.

Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers Conclave, themed on "Enhanced peace, Security and cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region" is being held during the Aero India.

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