Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that defence manufacturing sector has been severely affected due to coronavirus-led lockdown and disruption in supply chains, and it is more aggravated than others as the only buyer of its products is the government.
"Manufacturing sector has been affected the most due to lockdown and disruption in existing supply chains and the defence sector is no exception to this. Rather, it can be said that the defence sector is more aggravated than other sectors as the only buyer of defence products is the government," said Rajnath Singh at the MSMEs e-conclave of SIDM.
Theme of the e-conclave was 'Business Continuity for MSMEs in Defence & Aerospace Sector' in which more than 800 defence MSMEs participated.
Acknowledging the hardships faced by the defence industry, Singh said that Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken several steps for industries, especially MSMEs, such as extension of response dates of request for proposal, early clearance of pending payments, etc. In this crisis, several financial support measures have been announced by the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to reduce the financial burden of the industries. These will provide some relief due to the availability of additional working capital, deferment in interest payments, the minister said.
The Defence Minister assured that the 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat' campaign will provide many opportunities to Indian industry and will help in restoring millions of jobs.
He said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for being 'vocal for local' in this direction. I would like to say that we have to have our indigenous products, ie 'vocal for local', but before that in our own life, 'local' has to be focal. That is, we have to adopt 'swadeshi' products in our life. There is no doubt that MSMEs have a very important role in the goal of indigenous manufacturing, and in the goal of self-reliant India."
Singh termed MSMEs as the backbone of Indian economy that accelerate GDP growth, earn valuable foreign exchange through exports and provide employment opportunities. Keeping MSMEs strong is one of the priorities of the government. He said, "There are more than 8,000 MSMEs, tiered partners of many of our organisations - Ordnance factories, DPSUs and service organisations. They contribute more than 20 per cent of the total production of these organisations."
Citing the example of United States where domestic defence industry developed within a short span of two years during the World War-II, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said India should have its own defence industry. He urged the MSMEs to work for placing India among the top ten nations in defence technologies.
By Chitranjan Kumar