SOURCE: Express News Service
Aero India 2021 is scheduled to take off in Bengaluru on February 3. But those waiting to witness the dazzling display of gravity-defying manoeuvres during the show will be in for disappointment. They have to watch the show only in the virtual mode as it will be only a business-focused event with no public days like in normal air shows due to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The five-day event which has been cut short to three days, will begin on February 3 and conclude on February 5 — the three business days — at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru. The decision to reduce the number of days was taken during a meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi last month. Officials in Bengaluru too confirmed that only business delegates will be allowed inside the venue.
A statement issued by the MoD after the meeting stated that people have to witness the air display only in the virtual mode to make way for safe in-person interactions among the business representatives of defence and aerospace firms.
Given the restrictions put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19 and the emergence of a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus from the United Kingdom, this edition of the show is unlikely to be attended by many foreign delegates, although the MoD claims that response to the event has been good with over 500 exhibitors registering.
Despite the pandemic worries, the government is keen to showcase India’s aerospace and defence manufacturing capabilities during the show and seek investments in the sector. Experts have expressed concerns over holding such an event amid the Covid situation. Even the Paris air show that was scheduled to be held in June 2021 has been cancelled.
Organizers plan to take adequate precautions, like having thermal scanners at all entry points to check body temperature and strictly enforce the “no-mask-no-entry” rule. In the last edition of the show in 2019, 238 Indian and 165 foreign exhibitors had displayed their products, and a total of about 4 lakh business and general visitors attended the five-day event. The 2019 event had been by far the largest Aero India event.