NEW DELHI: In a major policy shift, the Centre has allowed scam-tainted or even blacklisted companies to participate in the forthcoming Aero India, scheduled to get underway in Bangalore on February 18. And the move runs counter to that of the previous Congress- led UPA Government, which had restricted the scam-tainted defence companies’ entry into any defence exhibition.
Taking advantage of it, Italian major Finmeccanica, whose subsidiary AgustaWestland is under CBI probe into the VVIP helicopter deal, is participating in the 10th edition of Aero India, which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“There is no restriction for blacklisted firm to take part in a defence exhibition. Finmeccanica is participating in Aero India,” G Mohan Kumar, Secretary, Defence Production said.
During previous UPA-II government, the Ministry of Defence(MoD) had barred AgustaWestland’s parent company Finmeccanica out of the DefExpo show, held here in February last, along with its other group companies including Selex, Alenia Armacchi, Oto Malera and WASS.
Bolstering the ‘Make in India’ theme in defence manufacturing – Aero India 2015 will include sectors like defence manufacturing and airport infrastructure besides aerospace, defence and civil aviation.
“We want to set ‘Make in India’ as the major theme of the exhibition and see ‘Make in India’ progress in the defence sector also,” Kumar said at a curtain raiser for Aero India 2015 here on Monday.
It is for the first time, that the Prime Minister will inaugurate the event, as traditionally it was done by the Defence Minister.
Besides 54 ministerial and other high-level delegations from several countries that are slated to attend the inaugural event, the exhibition will see the participation of over 600 companies, including 295 Indian and 328 foreign companies. With 64 companies, USA is the leading participant in the exhibition among the 33 other participating nations. Others, who are fielding more than 15 companies, include France (58), the UK (48), Russia (41), Israel (25) and Germany (17), according to MoD officials. Further, the MoD claimed that around 300 CEOs from Indian and foreign firms are expected to attend the event. Business-to-business (B2B) and round-table meetings of Indian companies with those of Israel, the UK and Poland will also be held at the event. Heads and senior representatives from the Indian Armed Forces and paramilitary forces, besides the Service Chiefs from nine foreign countries are among those scheduled to attend the event.