Wednesday, May 29, 2024

North Tech Symposium 2022: Indian Army Marches Towards ‘Raksha Atmanirbharta’

By Kamal Shah

North Tech Symposium is a technology showcase annual event, organised and coordinated under the aegis of Northern Command Headquarters. Since the start in 2005, the event was conducted as a combination of ‘Equipment Display and Idea/Innovation Fair. However, over the years, it has been re-structured to demonstrate the state-of-the-art technologies and display of latest equipment available in the industry. It provides a single-window platform for industrial representatives from across the country to display their technological prowess and offer solutions to the field army.  It also provides an opportunity for Commanders at all levels to interact with the industry and identify unique solutions to meet the field army’s operational, logistic, and training requirements.

Another inherent accrued benefit in an event of this scale is engaging with the research and development (R&D) establishments, enhancing the technical threshold of all stakeholders and engaging with the academia for solutions to problems faced by the field commanders. A civil-military interaction also facilitates a forceful impetus to the self-sufficiency in military equipment, which is the need of the hour. North Tech Symposium provides an efficacious platform for knowledge diffusion and Army-Industry participation with the intent to interface directly with the end-user and create awareness about contemporary technologies. It also helps bridge the gap between ‘what the Indian Army has’, ‘what the Indian Army requires’, and thereby aids in formulating the procurement plan for Northern Command.

North Tech Symposium was organised at Udhampur on 6-7 May 2022. A Seminar with the theme ‘Self Reliance in Defence through Atmanirbharta and Infusion of  New Technologies to meet Operational Challenges of Northern Command’ was held on 6 May.

Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi, AVSM, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief inaugurated the seminar. It included guest speakers/representatives from the Indian Defence Industry, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) and academia under one umbrella. The seminar focussed on opportunities for all stakeholders in the Indian Defence Sector and encouraging views on building an Atmanirbhar ecosystem for a self-reliant nation. Lt Gen. SS Hasabnis (Retd), PVSM, VSM, ADC delivered the keynote address. Other eminent speakers included Maj Gen. KV Jauhar, VSM, ADG, ADB, Dr B K Das, IRDE, Mr Ankit from Tonbo Imaging, Maj Gen GS Kular, SM**, VSM, HQ IDS, Mr Atul Raj from Staqu Technologies, and Dr Manoj Singh Gaur, IIT Jammu. 

The Equipment Exhibition was held on 7 May at Dhar Road and was inaugurated by Lt Gen BS Raju, UYSM, AVSM, YSM, and Vice Chief of Army Staff. The General Officer delivered the keynote address and enumerated the road map of how the army plans to adopt ‘Raksha Atmanirbharta’ over the next few years. The General Officer said that he was sanguine that the exhibition would bring out the latest technologies under one roof and provide a myriad of opportunities to the stakeholders in the broad spectrum of equipment exploited by the Indian Army. He interacted with the industrial representatives and motivated them to bridge the gap between the field requirement, the available solutions and the cost-effectiveness of the solutions on display. 

He told the participants that such symposiums would lead to highlighting India as an emerging hub for the manufacturing of military hardware. The focus was on build and harness the capacity and capability of all stakeholders to cater to the needs of the defence sector and to create a broad and sustainable supply chain base for a vibrant Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector for defence. 

The event saw the participation of over 160 companies from the Indian defence industry, including MSME, DRDO and DPSU.  Leading firms like Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge, Tata Advanced Systems Limited, the Ordnance Factories, and many defence related firms were present through participation. 

The exhibition also saw the participation of training establishments of the Indian Army like College of Military Engineering (CME), Pune, Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (MCEME), Secunderabad, Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE), Mhow and the Simulator Development Division (SDD) Secunderabad.

Based on their utility (operational/logistics/training) for the field army, the products were classified into the domains of situational awareness, individual force protection, firepower, operational survivability, security solutions, tactical mobility, disruptive technology, simulators, habitat, medical solutions, communication, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and Virtual/ augmented reality. All the products on display had relevance (operational/logistics/training) to the peculiar challenges faced by the Indian Army in general and Northern Command in particular.

The exhibition included a robotic display by Kaya Technologies, a leading player in Virtual Reality (VR). The exhibition witnessed many industry representatives dealing in surveillance devices, which is essential to enhance battlefield transparency in the Line of Control/Counter-Insurgency operations scenario. In addition, several drones and counter-drone equipment were on display. A swarm drone demonstration was given by SDD, Secunderabad, during the exhibition. Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), cargo drones and tethered drones attracted many visitors. Due to the constant impetus on clean energy, the exhibitions witnessed a display of fuel cell technology and equipment utilising hybrid energy (both solar and wind). 

Solutions to improve the existing habitat of troops deployed in the field army found space in the exhibition. The latest weapons, including sniper rifles and corner shot weapons, were also among the main attractions. Among the categories of operation survival, explosive trace detectors, infrared light sticks and flameless cooking systems were displayed. Unique solutions to the storage of large numbers of weapons, smart fencing, portable accommodation and integrated ICU system also found many takers.  Both Minerva and Bharat Forge displayed light Veh Bullet Proof. Polaris displayed solutions to enhance tactical mobility in the High Altitude Area. 

The symposium served to display innovative technologies and innovative products, providing solutions to some of the complex challenges faced by the security forces in Northern Command and acted as an ideal platform for mutual exchange of ideas between the domestic defence industry and the army. In addition, 42 innovative solutions developed by various formations/units to enhance operational efficiency in the army were also on display. Among the prominent ideas/innovations displayed, the visitors appreciated Padma Kawach (anti-mine shoes), Tactical Infrared Illuminator (TIRIL), Omni Directional Counter Drone GPS Band Jammer and Ten Artificial Intelligence Remotely Operated Weapon System (TAIROWS).

Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, AVSM, lauded all the vendors’ initiatives and innovations. The General Officer exhorted all Commanders to optimally utilise this annual event to share their operational requirements with civil Industry representatives present and to enable them to offer customised solutions to enhance the combat effectiveness of the respective formations. The General Officer expressed his conviction that the plethora of technologies available indigenously can further boost the Atmanirbhar Bharat project. The spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat demands that research and development players, the domestic defence industry and the army work in a synchronised manner, which would give a considerable boost to realise the nation’s vision of being self-reliant.


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