Raksha Rajya Mantri Shripad Naik has said that India has emerged as a key global power driven by the impressive economic growth backed by its longstanding moral leadership on core humanitarian and geographical issues. He was addressing a two-day digital conference on the defence & aerospace manufacturing sector ‘Defence Conclave 2020, Gujarat’ via video conferencing here today, which is being jointly organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Gujarat and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM). Shripad Naik said, “Strong defence capabilities would help the nation in safeguarding the prosperity generated over last couple of decades and also protect key economic interests like trade routes and safety going forward. Focus on developing a strong domestic capability in defence would be a great economic growth impetus and also help in skilled job creation in manufacturing, a key need and priority for the nation.”Raksha Rajya Mantri emphasised that the huge opportunity and clear vision of Central Government for the defence sector today has attracted the attention of not only a few large players but also a large number of Micro, Small and Medium sized enterprises, which visualise this unprecedented opportunity as a gateway towards entering into the domain of defence production. He said, “The slowing down/ saturation of markets in other sectors has also been responsible for directing their interest towards the unexplored defence sector which promises sustained business opportunities. I have been informed that there are already over 8,000 plus MSMEs who serve this strategic sector as tiered vendors to Ordnance Factories and Defence Public Sector companies. There is a need to expand this base by hand-holding more and more MSMEs to participate.” Pointing out significance of Gujarat, Shri Shripad Naik said, “Gujarat has emerged as a State with excellent infrastructure facilities and can offer both forward and backward supply chain linkages to the Defence & Aerospace manufacturing sector. The growth drivers for Gujarat include its vast coastline of 1,600 kilometres with well-connected ports, the MSME [Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises] engineering companies proving entire supply chain for defence sector, premier educational institutes in management, engineering, design, R&D and infrastructure planning and world class ship building and repairing facility.” He said that to capitalise on the emerging opportunities and for providing a thrust to the defence sector in Gujarat, the state government has come out with Defence & Aerospace policy and defence manufacturing zones have been marked. The Conclave will bring together high-level government representatives, key industry and academia to discuss, deliberate and exchange ideas, viewpoints and knowledge about critical defence offset policies, sector analyses and review choices of technology available globally for the manufacturing and production of indigenous defence systems. The Conclave intends to build on the positives of the ‘Make in India’ vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for boosting the defence manufacturing.