Enabling finance availability, easy migration of labour force and a robust think tank is the need of the hour for defence sector
India needs quicker technology acquisition, rapid indigenisation, development of defence manufacturing hubs in Tier II and Tier III cities and setting up of a robust research and development (R&D) think-tank, former secretary Defence R&D, VK Saraswat has said.
Speaking at a conference titled ‘Building India’s Future Navy: Technology Imperatives’, organised by industry chamber FICCI, Saraswat said that the Indian defence sector can do much better than what has already been done.
“Globally, we haven’t done as much as we should have done,” he said adding, “nothing can replace (a country’s) own investment in R&D”.
Saraswat said that unmanned surveillance systems, better sensors and turbines and laser beams can help fill “critical technological gaps.”
India enjoys a coastline that is home to 50 percent of the population. Being in close proximity to sea offers encouraging opportunities for naval operations and market to coastal states.
“Coastal states offer the right environment,” said Pierre De Bausset, president and managing director, Airbus India.
“Proximity to customers (navy), good roads, waterways and critical hubs within country” are some of the reasons rendering India “ahead of the curve” he pointed out.
Planning to set up plants in states like Goa and Gujarat, De Bausset said, “India is the destination for state-of-the-art helicopter designs and exports.”
Airbus India recently entered into a joint venture with Mahindra to indigenously produce helicopter parts.
Make in India and Skill India to go hand in hand
A technology-driven sector, defence industry needs skilled labour workforce.
“Skills are the global currency for future,” said Prakash Tolani, senior director-strategy and business consulting, Siemens Industry Software India Pvt. Ltd.
Reiterating a famous dialogue of Bollywood movie ‘Deewar’, Tolani said that India must answer to the world by stating that “mere pass skilled labour hai.”
On similar lines, Kalidoss Srinivas, director defence machinery development establishment (DMDE), Navy, said that make in India and Skill India need to go “together” in order to “maintain” the ecosystem that is required for defence.
He highlighted that India needs a-120 million skilled labour workforce and that “services is the key area for jobs.”
Saraswat called for a long term perspective and said that industry needs to think at the global level to come at par with the rest of the world.
“Industry 4.0 (technology and data driven society) can’t remain silent as far as India is concerned,” Saraswat said.
Policy initiatives, ease of doing business, better labour laws, upgradation in infrastructure, efficiency in supply chain, tax exemption in R&D and skilled labour are some of the measures the industry suggested.
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