As many as 624 companies from 30 countries would be participating in the four-day Defexpo India which begins in New Delhi on Thursday.

While bringing foreign technologies to the country, the eighth edition of the biennial exhibition would also seek to showcase the best of Indian defence products, technologies and services at a time when the Government has made a number of important policy and procedural changes relating to defence manufacturing and acquisition.

Through the exhibition, the Government is looking forward to encourage strong partnerships between India and international manufacturers capable of meeting India’s growing defence needs.

Outlining the major features of the exhibition which has grown in size over the years, Secretary (Defence Production) G.C. Pati said this time 624 companies, of which 256 are Indian and 368 foreign would be participating. The number of Indian companies has gone down from 335 in 2012 as this time companies which are only based in India have been allowed to seek financial concessions of nearly 57 per cent under the category.

The number of foreign companies has on the other hand increased from 232 to 368.

As many as 30 countries would be displaying their equipment and 12 of them would be having their own “country pavilions”.

The largest domestic exhibitor would be Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which would be displaying its full range, bringing in live Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Tanks for the event. “DRDO has a very important role in driving indigenization and promoting research and development. It helps in developing technology, indigenizing it and developing vendors,” Mr. Pati said.

The Secretary said the exhibition would also provide foreign companies an opportunity to tie up with Indian companies to meet their targets under the Defence offset policy, which is being modified to allow participation of more firms. The companies have Rs 20,000 crore worth of commitments to fulfil up to 2022. Also, he noted that while 26 per cent FDI cap exists on defence purchases, it can be relaxed by the Government in case a vendor brings in state of the art technology.

Stating that Indian companies had contributed Rs 40,000 crore worth of equipment to the defence sector in 2012-13, Mr. Pati said while India has not set any specific export targets, some of the companies like HAL, through its Advanced Light Helicopter and Dorniers were trying to penetrate the foreign markets. Also, India has started selling naval vessels and had sold an offshore patrol vessel (OPV) to Mauritius.

The largest overseas participation would be from Russia, the largest arms supplier to India, which is the world’s largest importer. The largest participation of companies would also be from Russia at 37, followed by France at 24 and Israel at 20.

A total of 511 delegates from 52 countries, nine ministerial, seven secretarial and 11 service-chief led delegations, and 21 government delegations would also be participating in the event.

Ashok Kumar Gupta, Additional Secretary in Department of Defence Production, said the stress during the event would be on business to business meetings to help in co-development and co-production of defence equipment. “India is now giving preference to ‘buy Indian’, ‘buy and make Indian’ and ‘make Indian’ over ‘buy global’ as per the amendment in its defence procurement procedure (DPP).”

AgustaWestland, with which the Ministry of Defence cancelled on January 1, this year the contract for supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters in the wake of a payback scandal, and its parent company, Finmeccanica, have been barred from participation in the biennial defence exhibition, Defexpo 2014.

Secretary (Defence Production) G.C. Pati said that the decision to debar the two entities was taken as per the “government policy of not allowing participation to any company which had been blacklisted or was under investigation”.

He said the application process was online and while the two companies had applied for participation, their booking were cancelled after it was detected that their actions were under investigation.

Mr. Pati said these were the only companies which have been barred as no other companies blacklisted had booked for the event.

In response to a question, Mr. Pati said China had not been invited for the event and so there would be no delegation from it. On the decision for not inviting China, he said such matters are dealt with in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs.

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