July 8, Bangalore, India: Defence Industry and Innovators Association (DIIA) gathered today in Bengaluru to move forward the agenda of Make in India in Defence. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s flagship Make in India program has defence industry at its center to create substantive self-reliance. While inaugurating the Aero India 2015, Hon. PM had given a call to move India from being a defence importing country to a defence exporting nation as it creates a strategic depth in the economy and DIIA’s aim is to action upon this call.
Organized by the Defence Innovators & Industry Association (DIIA), the conference was inaugurated by the Minister for Industries and Infrastructure, Hon. Shri R.V. Deshpande. The minister stressed on the pressing need for indigenization in the Indian defence sector while highlighting the potential of Karnataka, the hub of Defence and Aerospace companies in the country with over 65% of all defence sector investments in India, to harness the Make in India opportunity. The conference was also graced by Mr Muralidhar Rao, National General Secretary of BJP.
Mr. Rahul Chaudhry, Chairman of DIIA, CEO of Tata Power SED and a member of the Kelkar Committee, called for greater indigenization of Defence technology. “Defence business is a monopsony – i.e. a single buyer market. Government is the sole buyer and also the market maker, i.e. tasked to create the defence industrial base and export opportunities. Although, many reforms on creating level playing field and transparency for defence acquisition side have been propagated, the Industry is still fledgling. While, a new initiative by the ministry of finance to change the GFR was announced in June 2017, MoD needs to create the market for the Make in India products and quickly release the funds for such projects to encourage the nascent defence industrial base. Only indigenous technology and an Indian defence industrial base could materialize the dream of a defence exporting nation.”
DIIA supports for an urgent need to ensure that the best is available for our soldiers and for that DIIA advocates a need to build on the decades of work on strategic self-reliance that India has achieved with its success space, nuclear and strategic missile programs. It is imperative that we create a tierization of defence industry and for that to happen, the existing successes in Make in India for Defence, such as the Akash Missile Program, Brahmos missile program, Pinaka MBRL, Ship-building, etc. are kept funded, so as to continually feed and upgrade the technology and production base of over 2000 M/SMEs created largely to support DRDO technologies.
DIIA’s conference draws its inspiration from the Akash Missile programme – one of the most successful partnerships in defence manufacturing is the Akash Air Defence missile system; which has created an eco-system of 270 industry partners and created thousands of high skill jobs. Bengaluru is one of the key centres for Akash Missile production and has emerged as the preferred destination for all aerospace and defence investments in the country.
Independent Director of Air India, Former CMD of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Mentor Director of DIIA, Dr. RK Tyagi, spoke about the capabilities of the Indian industry as world-class suppliers of defence goods. “The ability to become reliable suppliers of components to the large foreign defence companies and become part of their global supply chain, demonstrates the Indian industry’s technological capabilities. However, since we only produce sub-systems, the value absorbed within India is only a minuscule part of the overall profits of a defence business. If the Indian industry has to retain the value it creates, then it needs to be able to move from the screw-driving assemblies to systems-engineering roles.”
The conference touched upon various other topics of relevance to the defence and aerospace sector, viz. Local sourcing requirements in Public Procurement, Lessons from the indigenous Akash Missile Program and the opportunities for MSMEs in the aerospace and defence, respectively. Padma Shri Dr. Prahlada Ramarao (Former Director of DRDL – the largest of the DRDO labs), Shri G. Chandramouli (Program Director, Akash Missile Program), Commodore Mukesh Bhargava (Vice President of L&T Heavy Engineering Division and Shri Amit Cowshish (Former Finance Advisor to Ministry of Defence) were some of the eminent speakers who were present at the gathering.