By Rohit Srivastava
Indian, on Friday, announced postponement of the DefExpo22, India's premier exhibition of land and naval forces. "Due to logistics problems being experienced by participants, the DefExpo 2022 proposed to be held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from March 10th till March 14th is postponed," government said in a statement.
The has come as shock to industry which has made all the necessary preparations for the show.
Industry sources are raising questions on the 'logistic arguments' as most of the heavy equipment like armoured vehicles, radar systems, missiles and other weapons and displays are booked for shipping months in advance. It takes anywhere between three to five weeks for them to arrive in India.
Formalities at the port takes at least another week and one more week in transport to the destination.
Given this timeline, industry is aghast at the loss of expenditure in case the show does not happen very soon.
One may say that the majority of the equipment either have arrived or must be in the last leg of transport.
One of the major expense of the show is travel and accommodation, with room rates touching in excess of INR 40,000, the loss to industry is imaginable, given the fact that each company books rooms in dozen.
Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh, on February 28, reviewed the preparation of DefExpo and "noted that the recent relaxation of health protocols in India has generated greater interest in DefExpo-2022 which has 78 participating nations, 39 Minister Level delegations with other confirmations to be received in the days ahead and 1000+ registered exhibitors. Foreign Defence Ministers confirmations are also being received and as on date are equal to the previous edition at Lucknow in Feb 2020 in the pre-COVID times."
The show was also extended by one business day. Initially, February 10 and 11 were two business day.
Unlike AeroIndia which has a fixed venue at Yelahanka Airbase, Bengaluru, DefExpo moves from city to city. Till 2013, DefExpo was conducted at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.
Thereafter Goa (2016), Chennai (2018), Luckhnow (2020) and this year in Gandhinagar.
All across the globe show of this magnitude has fixed venues which in long term reduces the cost for organisers and participants. With every addition, the show related infrastructure like hotel, transport, and venue evolves to cater to the need of the exhibitions.
In long term, a stable business model evolves which keeps costs in check.
One of the most significant benefit is that the local administration develops a standard protocol catering to all the requirements of the show.
Industry sources also believes that in case the show does not happen in April then the only possibility is post August, as it would not feasible to organise during the summer and monsoon seasons.