The increased partnership with the private sector has led to a substantial rise in defence exports. India achieved exports of defence items and technology worth a record Rs 13,000 crores in 2021-22 and this figure is likely to rise to Rs 17,000 crores in 2022-23, stated Srikar K. Reddy, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, Government of India on Tuesday while addressing the 2nd edition of India MSME Defence Week.

"Several factors like rising demand, greater innovation, more conducive policies and a maturing ecosystem in defence and aerospace manufacturing space are leading to the growth in the sector," he added in the statement. Reddy was speaking at the event organized by EEPC India.

The four-day India MSME Defence Week seeks to create linkages for the Indian MSMEs in the defence sector. EEPC India has a large membership base of 12000 members with 70% belonging to the MSME sector.

Noting the importance of the MSME sector in the economy, Reddy noted that there is a substantially large number of MSMEs across the country supplying components and sub-assemblies and systems to the Defence Public Sector Undertakings, Ordnance Factories, Defence Research, and Development Organizations and private industries.

"It is not only the government but now even the MSMEs have realized their role as an untapped force multiplier for the defence sector. To put that in perspective, the total MSME vendors scattered across the country supplying to the Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs) were 7,591 in FY18, 8,643 in FY19, and 10,506 till Q2 FY20. By December 2021, the total MSME count had increased to 12,000," he added in the statement.

Reddy also highlighted the numerous steps taken by the government to boost the Make in India initiative by promoting indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment, platforms, systems, and sub-systems.

"India has imposed a phased import ban on 310 different weapons and systems during the last two years, which helped boost export," he noted.

Addressing the participants, EEPC India Chairman Arun Kumar Garodia stated that defence manufacturing has become the critical focus of the Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat missions.

"The participation of Engineering MSMEs in the Defence manufacturing value chain is critical to reducing India’s defence imports. The defence and aerospace are among the few hi-tech manufacturing sectors where the participation of MSMEs has gradually increased, and the overall output has increased multi-fold in recent years," he stated. Garodia noted that the engineering fraternity is enthusiastic about the government's proactive multi-pronged approach to reform and encourage the participation of MSMEs in the Defence manufacturing value chain.

He stated that the government’s initiative to centralize procurement from MSMEs through a single window called government e-marketplace has significantly facilitated and eased the procedures for MSMEs to participate in the procurements for DPSUs, thereby attracting more and more interest in the Defence sector. EEPC India's 2nd edition of MSME Defence Week on a virtual platform is spread over a period of four days focussing on various aspects like vendor development, indigenization, creating MSME Linkages and value, technology transfer, exports and Make in India.

While the Department of Commerce led the initiative, the Ministry of Defence, DRDO, and DGQA extended their valuable support by participating in the four-day event.