100 days more for Aero India 2015; MoD waits for Parrikar’s magical touch

Written by: Dr Anantha Krishnan M
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Bengaluru, November 10: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Defence Exhibition Organisation (DEO) are all set to review the preparations for the 10th edition of Aero India 2015 scheduled to be held at the Air Force Station (AFS) Yelahanka, in Bengaluru, from February 18-22, 2015. With 58-year-old Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar taking charge as India's full-time Defence Minister, the 36th individual to head the top ministry, sources confirm to OneIndia that ‘new vision' for the air show will be out soon. Going by the tone of the officials, it is clear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ‘Make in India' dream will get a major boost during the show.

With just 100 days to go for the plane carnival, the officials are eager to capture the vision of Defence Minister Parrikar. "This time we have been given a free hand to brand Aero India and transparency will be the key. The policy change and the mindset of the government so far has been clear that the show should be meaningful highlighting India's strengths in defence and aviation manufacturing. Officially the show will be called as ‘10th International Show on Aerospace, Defence, Civil Aviation, Airport Infrastructure and Defence Engineering.' The launch of the logo will be held soon after the new minister settles down," a senior government official said.

The ticket rate for general public has been fixed at Rs 600 ($25), who will be permitted to view the show from Air Display Viewing Area (ADVA). "There will be more facilities put in place this time at ADVA, based on the feedback we received from the public last time. The business visitors will have to pay Rs 1400 ($40), with access to exhibition area as well," the official added.

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Make in India mantra visible all over

Giving clear indications that this year's show will hover around government's strong ‘Make in India' pitch, the official website projects the opportunities India provides to aerospace investors. Deviating from the earlier shows, sources confirm that the exhibitors will have more reasons to cheer this time. "We are already running 24x7 helpline for exhibitors and every email is being addressed on a priority basis. With the entire show being under the command and control of MoD this time, we have already formed teams to ensure that Brand India gets maximum mileage from the show. The numbers are certainly expected to increase this time, be it the exhibitors, aircraft at both static and for flying," the official said. It's speculated that PM Modi might be making it to the show this time.

MoD Spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said that a 25-30 member team under the chairmanship of Defence Minister will review the show modalities soon. "Various committees will be given charge for the conduct of the show. Definite plans will be only out after these review meetings get over," Kar told OneIndia from Delhi.
With a host of national and international media being set to land in Bengaluru, the MoD has the task of putting up a better show this time. The media management had come for severe criticism during the 2013 show, with the matter even reaching the ears of the then defence minister A K Antony.

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Seminar theme based on ‘Aerospace: Vision 2050'

The three-day Aero India 2015 International Seminar, a permanent fixture during the show will be held from February 16-18 at the NIMHANS Convention Centre in Bengaluru. Conducted jointly by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI), the theme of the seminar will be ‘Aerospace: Vision 2050.' The Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), a premier DRDO lab mandated to develop India's home-grown prying plane, will be a nodal agency for this year's seminar. Over 1000 delegates are expected to be part of the prestigious event this time.

In an official communication issued as part of the seminar, DRDO chief Dr Avinash Chander says that India has come a long way since Independence as a mere buyer of technology. "Today we have made science and technology an important contributor for national development and transformation. It is important for us to put our act together to become a continuous innovator and creator of science and technology intensive products. The seminar is aimed at providing aerospace professionals an environment wherein they are exposed to latest research and development activities in the field of aerospace," says Dr Chander.

IAF preparations get underway at Yelahanka

The Indian Air Force's (IAF) preparations have gained momentum at the AFS in Yelahanka ahead of the show. Air Commodore S C Gulati, Air Officer Commanding of the station had told this Correspondent during a recent media visit that the mandatory SOPs (standard operating procedures) including survey of helipads and hospitals have already begun. "These are all part of the disaster management plans," he had said. The AFS Yelahanka is also expected to have a new station HQ building soon.

The exhibitors will be handed over their allotted space on February 1, 2015 and the anti-sabotage and counter terrorists checks are scheduled to be held on February 16. "Since, we have the expertise of handling the show for many years now, our activities go as per the fixed calendar of events, with no scope for any surprises," an IAF official told OneIndia.

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A glimpse of the new Defence Minister

Meanwhile, Manohar Parikkar gave a glimpse of his new role as the Defence Minister while addressing the media briefing soon after filing his nomination papers for Rajya Sabha papers from Uttar Pradesh. Taking a volley of questions fired at him from all directions by the ‘restless media' in Lucknow, Parikkar sought more time to study his department. "I might be defenceless against the media today as the Defence Minister, but that won't be the case when it comes to defending the nation. Let me study my department (MoD). It will not take much time," Parikkar said.

While admitting that his Hindi-speaking skills need some polishing, the former Goa Chief Minister said: "I will start speaking in good Hindi very soon. I know Hindi well, just that I don't like mixing it with English." To a query on India's reply to unprovoked shelling by Pakistan in the Uri sector, the minister refused to make any direct remarks. "I do not want to comment on our relationship with our neighbours now. I will have a word with PM and then get back to you," he said. He said with the PM, the Home Minister and now the Defence Minister being representatives of UP, the state won't be deprived of any developmental activities.

(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake)

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