New Delhi. The capital buzzed with excitement as the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) showcased a slew of defence innovations at the second edition of the ‘Swavlamban Seminar’. Held at the iconic Bharat Mandapam in Pragati Maidan, the event spanned two action-packed days, from October 4-5 2023
Gracing the occasion, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the seminar. His presence was bolstered by the attendance of military top-brass like General Anil Chauhan, Admiral R Hari Kumar, and vice chiefs from the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. Not to be left behind, the industry was well-represented by SP Shukla, President of the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), among others.
A spotlight was cast on the stellar products emerging from the SPRINT initiative, underscoring the Navy’s ambitious goal: 75 groundbreaking innovations, mirroring the 75 years of India’s cherished independence. With academia and industry mavens flocking to the seminar, the event became a melting pot of ideas and collaborations.
In a significant move, Singh unveiled ‘Swavlamban 2.0’, the much-anticipated blueprint detailing the future of indigenisation in the Indian Navy. Matching the patriotic fervor surrounding India’s 76th year of independence, a whopping 76 challenges were introduced, aimed at catapulting the defence sector into newer heights. These challenges are nestled under the aegis of the 10th Defence India Start-up Challenges (DISC 10) and its prime counterpart.
In an international twist, two INDUS X challenges, crafted in tandem with the United States Department of Defense (DoD), saw the light of day. The unveiling was all the more special with Eric Garcetti, the US Ambassador to India, marking his presence.
Tapping into the digital zeitgeist, the seminar introduced the innovative State Bank of India (SBI) NAVeCash Card. This venture, a brainchild of the SBI in collaboration with the Indian Navy, promises seamless cashless transactions, even on the high seas. A testament to its efficiency, the card has already seen successful trials across naval command zones.
The NIIO joined hands with the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) in a landmark announcement. The partnership is poised to channel more Venture Capital into defence, anchored by the iDEX Innovators Hub (iIH). The spirit of collaboration was in the air, with numerous MoUs inked, weaving a tighter bond between NIIO, the academic world, and the defence industry.
But it was not all business. The seminar was interspersed with engaging sessions, each delving deep into areas ranging from naval indigenisation to the nuances of defence procurement. Specialised sessions explored aviation, armament indigenisation, and a standout segment on medical innovations within the Navy.
In his address, Singh heaped praise on the SPRINT initiative, attributing much of its success to the Prime Minister’s visionary leadership. Emphasising India’s illustrious history of knowledge and innovation, Singh stressed on rejuvenating local products and talents.
Encouraging the youth to dive deep into the defence realm, especially in research and development (R&D) and manufacturing, Singh drew a vivid analogy between the defence trajectory and both a sprint and a marathon.
Commander Rahul Verma (Retd), a former naval officer who served with the Technology Deelopment Acceleration Cell (TDAC) and was one of the pioneers of naval innovation overhaul aptly surmised the event: “Swavlamban 2.0 is not just a seminar. It was a clarion call to the nation, emphasising the golden age of defence innovations that lay ahead. As curtains came down on the event, one thing was clear: India’s defence future gleamed brighter than ever, poised on the pillars of indigenisation, collaboration, and home-grown talent.”