India will bring its procedures for purchasing military hardware in line with the best international practices, defence minister AK Antony said after inaugurating the four-day DefExpo 2008. In this regard he mentiooned that a revised document enunciating the new formulations would be issued by April this year.
'We have received a number of suggestions. We are seriously applying our minds to this and fine tuning the procedures. We should be ready with the new rules by April,' Antony said at a press conference after inaugurating the four-day DefExpo-2008 international defence exposition here.
Interestingly, the offsets policy that was part of the Defence Procurement Procedure announced in 2006, according to Antony, was 'at a nascent stage and still evolving'.
'Discussions are going on with regard to few important issues like banking of credits, transfer of technology, licensing requirements for the software industry and the like,' the minister said.
'I am sure that the discharge of offsets will give the necessary fillip to the participation of the private sector in a big way,' he added.
A record 475 defence manufacturers - 273 of them from abroad – are showcasing their varied portfolios at DefExpo-2008 as they eye purchases of Rs.155 billion (approx $4 billion) by the Indian armed forces over the next five years.
Spread over eight halls and 32,000 sq metres of open and covered space, DefExpo-2008 is displaying 91 new products, ranging from radars, to communications systems, torpedoes, anti-mine vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and combat clothing.
A total of 46 American companies, the largest from any country, are represented at the show, perhaps reflecting the fast warming ties between New Delhi and Washington.
The companies include giants like Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Sikorsky besides the US defence department.
Problematic neighbour China has decided to stay away, while Pakistan was not invited.
On his part, Antony played down the Chinese absence. ''Don't read too much into it,'' he said in response to a question, adding: ''In the past, there had been hesitation on the part of some countries to participate.
'This time, almost all the important players are participating. It shows that India is a worthwhile destination.''
'We are friendly to everyone. We are not in favour of anyone, nor are we negative to anyone. We only ask for the most modern technology that is acceptable to the armed forces and at competitive prices,' the minister said.
A major highlight of DefExpo-2008 is also the holding of seminars (16 ) which will enable exhibitors to make technology and product specific presentations targeted at Indian defence establishments, R&D institutions, visiting official delegations, defence public sector undertakings, ordnance factories and Indian industry.
Telecom and IT companies are also showcasing their products and services at the exposition.