• Recently, the Ministry of Defence launched the 5th edition of the Defence India Start-up Challenge (DISC) under Innovations for Defence Excellence – Defence Innovation Organisation (iDEX-DIO)
  • Thirty-five problem statements – 13 from the Services and 22 from Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) – were unveiled under DISC 5.0. Some of which are:
  • Situational awareness, augmented reality, Artificial Intelligence, aircraft-trainer, non-lethal devices, 5G network, Underwater Domain Awareness, Drone SWARMS and data capturing.

Innovation for Defence Ecosystem (iDEX)

  • It was launched in 2018, as an ecosystem to foster innovation & technology development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging innovators & entrepreneurs to deliver technologically advanced solutions for modernizing the Indian Military.
  • It provides funding/grants to MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia to carry out research and development.
  • iDEX is funded and managed by “Defence Innovation Organisation”.
  • Indigenization: Rapid development of new, indigenized and innovative technology.
  • Innovation: Creates a culture of engagement with innovative startups to encourage co-creation.

Important points:

  • DISC aims at supporting Startups/MSMEs(Micro Small and medium Enterprises)/Innovators to create prototypes and/or commercialize products/solutions in the area of National Defence and Security.
  • It is meant to achieve self-reliance and foster innovation and technology development in the defence and aerospace sectors.
  • It was launched by the Ministry of Defence in partnership with Atal Innovation Mission
  • Under the program, the start-ups, Indian companies and individual innovators (including research & academic institutions) can participate.
  • DISC 5.0 will be a massive leap towards leveraging the startup ecosystem to develop India’s defence technologies, equipment design and manufacturing capabilities.
  • Prototyping: Help create functional prototypes of products/technologies relevant for national security, and spur fast-moving innovation in the Indian defence sector.
  • Commercialization: Help new tech products/technologies find a market and early customer in the form of the Indian Defence Establishment.


  • It forms a link between youth, academia, R&D, start-ups and the armed forces.
  • These challenges will also encourage startups to become more attuned to innovative concepts and inculcate the approach of creative thinking in India’s budding entrepreneurs.

Indigenisation of Defence Sector

  • Indigenisation is the capability of developing and producing any defence equipment within the country for the dual purpose of achieving Self Reliance and reducing the burden of imports.
  • Self-reliance in defence manufacturing is one of the key objectives of Department of Defence Production.
  • Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and private organisations are playing a critical role in indigenisation of defence industries.
  • The defence ministry has set a goal of a turnover of USD 25 billion in defence manufacturing by 2025 that included an export target of USD 5 billion worth of military hardware.

Need of Indigenisation:

  • India is the second largest arms importer in the world (after Saudi Arabia).
  • Higher import dependency leads to an increase in the Fiscal Deficit
  • Indigenisation is critical to National Security also.
  • It keeps intact the technological expertise and encourages spin-off technologies and innovation that often stem from it.
  • Defence manufacturing will lead to the generation of satellites industries that in turn will pave the way for generation of employment opportunities.
  • Self sufficient and self-reliant defence industry will place India among the top global powers.
  • Nationalism and Patriotism can increase with indegenious production of defence equipment, that in turn will not only boost the trust and confidence of the Indian forces but will also strengthen a sense of integrity and sovereignty in them.


  • The defence manufacturing has been dependent on DRDO & Defence PSUs only.
  • The participation of the private sector has been allowed only recently.
  • In the Navy only, the naval architects were recruited from IITs & were provided training in foreign countries.
  • However, the army & air force does not have such a capacity building programme.
  • Bureaucratic hurdles, Political hurdles, Shortage of human & technical resources, Lack of timely delivery.
  • Most of the defence budget goes towards salaries, perks & maintenance of equipment.
  • Arms sales & lobbying reduced efficiency and effectiveness of defence spending.
  • Lack of coordination between academia, military & industry and poor R&D due to lack of government funding and poor industry-academia collaboration.

Way Forward

  • Private Sector boost is necessary as it can infuse efficient and effective technology and human capital required for modernisation of indegenious defence industry.
  • In⎯house design capability should be improved amongst the three services, the Navy has progressed well on the path of indigenisation primarily because of the in⎯house design capability, the Naval Design Bureau.


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