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PM Modi unveils SPRINT Challenges to boost indigenous tech in Indian Navy

SPRINT launched by PM stands for Supporting Pole-Vaulting in R&D through Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), NIIO and TDAC

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday unveiled ‘SPRINT Challenges’, aimed at giving a boost to the usage of indigenous technology in the Indian Navy, during the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) seminar ‘Swavlamban’ here in the national capital. In a bid to achieve ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence and as part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, NIIO, in conjunction with the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO), aims to induct at least 75 new indigenous technologies/products into the Indian Navy.

This collaborative project is named SPRINT {Supporting Pole-Vaulting in R&D through Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), NIIO and Technology Development Acceleration Cell (TDAC)}.

Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said the goal of self-reliance in the Indian defence forces is very important for India of the 21st century.

Organizing the first ‘Swavlamban’ (self-reliance) seminar for a self-reliant Navy is an important step in this direction. The Prime Minister said that the resolution of creating 75 indigenous technologies in this period of making new resolutions for India is inspiring in itself and he expressed confidence that it will be fulfilled very soon.

“We have to work to continuously increase the number of indigenous technologies. Your goal should be that when India celebrates 100 years of its independence, at that time our Navy should be at an unprecedented height”, he added.

Referring to the importance of oceans and coasts in India’s economy, Mr Modi said, the role of the Indian Navy is continuously increasing and therefore its self-reliance is of critical importance.

Recalling the glorious maritime tradition of the country, the Prime Minister stated that the defence sector of India used to be very strong even before independence. At the time of independence, there were 18 ordnance factories in the country, where many types of military equipment including artillery guns, were made in the country. India was an important supplier of defence equipment in World War II.

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“Our howitzers, machine guns made at the Ishapur Rifle Factory, were considered the best. We used to export a lot. But then what happened that at one point in time we became the world’s biggest importer in this field?”, he asked.

He said like the countries who capitalized on the challenge of the World War to emerge as the big arms exporters, India too turned adversity into opportunity during the Corona period and made strides in economy, manufacturing and science. He lamented the fact that during the initial decades of the Independence, there was no focus on the development of defence production and research and development were severely limited due it being restricted to the government sector. “Innovation is critical and it has to be indigenous. Imported goods can’t be a source of innovation”, he said. He also stressed the need for a change in the mindset of attraction for imported goods.

Mr Modi stressed the self-reliant defence system is critical for the economy and also from a strategic point of view. He said the country has worked in mission mode to reduce this dependence after 2014. He remarked that the Government has given new strength to our public sector defence companies by organising them in different sectors. Today we are making sure that we connect our premier institutions like IITs with defence research and innovation.

“Learning from the approach of the past decades, today we are developing a new defence ecosystem with the strength of everyone’s efforts. Today defence R&D has been opened for the private sector, academia, MSMEs and start-ups”, he added. This has led to a new speed in long pending defence projects and the Prime Minister expressed the confidence that the wait for the commissioning of the first indigenous aircraft carrier will be over soon.

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In the last eight years, the Prime Minister noted that the Government has not only increased the defence budget, “we have also ensured that this budget is useful in the development of the defence manufacturing ecosystem in the country itself. Today, a large part of the budget earmarked for the purchase of defence equipment is being spent on procurement from Indian companies.” He also complimented the defence forces for preparing a list of 300 items that will not be imported.

In the last 4-5 years, PM Modi said the defence imports have come down by about 21 per cent. Today we are moving fast from the biggest defence importer to a big exporter. Last year, Rs 13,000 crore worth of defence export was done with more than 70 percent of which being from the private sector, he pointed out.

The Prime Minister noted that now the threats to national security have also become widespread, and the methods of warfare are also changing. Earlier we used to imagine our defence only till land, sea and sky. Now the circle is moving towards space, moving towards cyberspace, moving towards economic, and social space. In such a scenario, the Prime Minister said that we have to move to anticipate the future challenges and change ourselves accordingly. Self-reliance will help the country a great deal in this regard, he said.

The Prime Minister warned against the new danger. He said “we also have to intensify our war against forces challenging India’s self-confidence, our self-reliance. As India is establishing itself on the global stage, there are constant attacks through misinformation, disinformation and false publicity, etc. Keeping the faith, the forces that are harming India’s interests, whether in the country or abroad, have to be thwarted in their every effort. National defence is no longer limited to borders but is much broader. Therefore, it is equally necessary to make every citizen aware of it.” He continued “as we are moving forward with the ‘whole of the government’ approach for a self-reliant India, Similarly, the ‘whole of the Nation’ approach is the need of the hour for the defence of the nation.” “This collective national consciousness of various people of India is the strong basis of security and prosperity”, the Prime Minister concluded.

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In his address, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh defined innovation & indigenisation as important components, which are central to strong and long-standing cooperation among the Armed Forces, Industry, R&D establishments & academia. This collaboration is needed to achieve ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence and the overall goal of safety, security and holistic development of the Nation, he said. Shri Rajnath Singh commended the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, likening it to the Swadeshi movement of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. Asserting that ‘New India’ is making giant strides to achieve self-reliance with a new resolve, he exuded confidence that “we will soon end the dependency on imports and touch newer heights.

The two-day seminar, to be held on July 18-19, 2022, aims to engage Indian industry and academia towards achieving self-reliance in the Defence sector. It will provide a platform for leaders from Industry, Academia, Services and Government to come together on a common platform to ideate and come up with recommendations for the Defence Sector. Sessions dedicated to Innovation, Indigenisation, Armament and Aviation will be held. The second day of the Seminar will witness outreach to the Indian Ocean Region, in line with the government’s vision of SAGAR.

(Defence Watch– India’s Defence News centre that places the spotlight on Defence Manufacturing, Defence Technology, Strategy and Military affairs is on Twitter. Follow us here and stay updated.)

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