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Decision to organise Aero India was not easy amid COVID, security challenges on northern borders: Defence Minister

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BENGALURU:

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the decision to organise Aero India amid COVID pandemic and security challenges along northern borders was “not easy”, as the event, dubbed as Asia’s largest military aviation exhibition, will kickstart in the city on February 3. Crediting the country’s soldiers unrelenting spirit along the borders for stabilisation of the situation, he said, India thereby showed its resolve to defend its sovereignty and integrity.

“The decision to organise Aero India in these testing times forced by the twin challenges of the COVID pandemic and also the security challenges thrust up on us along the northern borders was not easy,” Singh said.

Speaking at the curtain raiser event of Aero India, he said he has no hesitation in saying that the country’s robust stand, immediate and celebrated response and unrelenting spirit of the soldiers on the borders led to stabilisation of the situation.

“We showed our resolve to defend the sovereignty and integrity of our country,” he said, adding that the resolve of the government led by the Prime Minister to put the country back on the path of revival combined with hard work of officials and other stakeholders besids Karnataka government”s support has made it possible to organise Aero India 2021.

The three-day long event commences here on Wednesday amid the COVID-19 pandemic with buzz around “AatmaNirbhar Bharat” and “Make in India” push.

With a combination of both physical and virtual exhibition, the 13th edition of the biennial international event at Air Force Station Yelahanka will be the world’s first hybrid aerospace show, according to sources. The Defence Minister said Aero India this time, unlike many in the past, will witness the new initiatives of the new India that have begun to change “potential into reality”.

He said the President of India has consented to attend the valedictory function.

“Aero India would spark a renewed sense of pride in India’s defence manufacturing and take defence cooperation to the next level,” he added.

Further noting that since 2014, the government of India has relentlessly pushed policy reforms to boost indigenous manufacturing, Singh said the world has now started to recognise India as a trusted defence investment destination.

He said conclave of Defence Ministers of Indian Ocean region, conclave of Chiefs of Air Staff of various countries, India Russia military industrial conference, Startup Manthan are some of the highlights of the Aero India event.

“More than 200 MoU partnership agreements are likely to be signed during the Bandhan event,” he said, as he mentioned that the conclave of Defence Ministers of Indian Ocean region would reinforce the relevance of the region and its continued importance for stakeholders for trade, security and freedom of navigation.

Over 600 exhibitors, including 80 foreign companies, are expected to showcase their defence manufacturing prowess during the event.

Aero India will help forge enormous global engagement with Indian defence industry in the form of partnership and investment paving the path for transformation of the world’s largest democracy into the world”s most powerful defence economy, Singh added. PTI

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