Chennai, Apr 12: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a day-long fast against Congress over washout of second term of Budget session in Parliament, on Thursday attended the Defence Expo 2018 in Mahabalipuram, Chennai amid protests over demand of Cauvery Management Board (CMB). Addressing the event, he patted his own back for initiating the process of procurement of 110 fighter aircraft. He also added that the government is committed to establishing two Defence Industrial Corridors to boost the economic development and growth of defence industrial base. He also spoke about ‘Innovation for Defence Excellence’ scheme.

“You would also recall the long-drawn process of procurement of fighter aircraft that never reached any conclusion. We have not only taken bold action to meet our immediate critical requirements, but have also initiated a new process to procure 110 fighter aircraft,” he said.

“We are committed to establishing 2 Defence Industrial Corridors: 1 in TN & 1 in UP. These will utilize defence manufacturing ecosystems in the regions & further build upon it. The corridors will become engines of economic development and growth of defence industrial base,” he said.

Defence Expo 2018 is witnessing the participation of around 47 nations including Russia, the United States, UK, Afghanistan and Sweden, Finland, Italy, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Portugal, Seychelles and Vietnam among others. Its theme is “India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub.”

Speaking on ‘Innovation for Defence Excellence’ scheme, the PM said that it will set up Defence Innovation Hubs throughout the country to provide necessary incubation and infrastructure support to the start-ups in defence sector.

“We have launched the ‘Innovation for Defence Excellence’ scheme. It will set up Defence Innovation Hubs throughout the country to provide necessary incubation and infrastructure support to the start-ups in defence sector,” Modi added.

Taking a dig at the UPA, he said, “You would have seen how the issue of providing bullet proof jackets to Indian soldiers was kept hanging for years. You would have also seen that we have brought the process to a successful conclusion with a contract that will provide a boost to defence manufacturing in India.”

“There was a time when the critical issue of defence preparedness was hampered by policy paralysis. We have seen the damage such laziness, incompetence or perhaps some hidden motives, can cause to the nation. Not now, Not anymore, Never again,” he added.

The Prime Minister also informed that in May 2014, the total number of defence export permission granted stood at 118, for a total value of 577 million dollars. In less than four years, the government has issued 794 more export permissions, for a total value of over 1.3 billion dollars.

“Our commitment to peace is just as strong as our commitment to protecting our people & our territory. For this we are ready to take all necessary measures to equip our Armed Forces, including through the establishment of a strategically independent defence industrial complex,” Modi asserted.

The 10th edition of Defence Expo 2018 would be held in Chennai from April 11 to April 14. The four-day long annual event would showcase the country’s strength. The public entry will be free on the last day.