India’s defence in hands of startups, MSMEs: Govt to tap new ideas for self reliance

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Published: November 11, 2019 6:30:58 PM

India, which was the second-largest importer of arms between 2014 and 2018, is likely to spend around $220 billion in the coming decade to modernise its forces.

Rajnath Singh on Monday announced the third phase of Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) under the ministry’s Innovations for Defence Excellence. (Photo source: ANI)

Stressing on the significance of startups and MSMEs to help India achieve its goal of indigenization and self-reliance in the defence sector, Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Monday announced the third phase of Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) under its Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) — an initiative to boost innovation in the defence sector. As part of the programme selected startups will work on solving three challenges from the Army, Navy, and Air Force. DISC was launched in August 2018 with its first phase while the second phase was launched in January this year with 28 applicants from each batch were considered for grants for prototype development and possible commercialisation.

“Looking at the talent India possesses, I am pretty confident that we can become $10-trillion economy in the next 10-15 years,” said Rajnath Singh at an event on Monday. The aim of iDEX is to recognise talent and harness it amongst the youth, MSMEs, startups and fast emerging private sector, the minister said. Through iDEX and startup challenge, the government is looking to fund 250 startups and “achieve 50 tangible innovations in the next five years” said Subhash Chandra, Secretary, Department of Defence Production. For this, the defence ministry is currently seeking approval of Rs 500 crore.

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Highlighting the government’s initiative including Make in India, Startup India, and Atal Innovation Mission towards creating an innovative environment for new ideas, Singh said that incubation of new ideas is the most critical challenge. “Unless the process of careful and passionate incubation provides the ideal environment for nurturing and hand holding a creation, projects might fail.”

India, which was the second-largest importer of arms between 2014 and 2018 with a 9.5 per cent share of the global trade (according to global research institute Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), is likely to spend around $220 billion in the coming decade to modernise its forces, according to iDEX. The government had allocated Rs 3.18 lakh crore for this year’s defence budget, up from Rs 2.98 lakh crore from the preceding year. To cut its defence spending, the government is looking to partner with startups and small businesses in helping solve unique challenges for the armed forces.

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