'Private players role vital to achieve competitiveness in defence sector'
The Dollar Business Bureau India needs to have a long-term strategy to ensure the growth of the defence industry involving private players as production partners, said former president and scientist APJ Abdul Kalam. Kalam, who has spent decades with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Spare Research Organisation (ISRO), said that regulations and control procedures should be implemented in managing private industries for manufacturing of defence systems. “Encouraging high-technology tie-ups and joint ventures between Indian and other global defence industries will achieve not only competitiveness but also envisage the product for export. India cannot afford to lose any more time in pondering the issue,” he said. Kalam also insisted for the setting up of a national-level military industry complex to promote defence manufacturing industry including public sector units (PSUs) across the country. “The need of the hour is to establish a military industry complex (MIC) at the national level, enlisting large and medium industries to be partners along with defence PSUs as its members,” said Kalam. The setting of MIC envisages not only the industrial development but also create a number of job opportunities, Kalam said, adding that such a move “will pave way for knowledge workers to participate and contribute in the production of high-quality systems”. “This will change world’s perception towards India from an importer country to an exporting giant,” he added. Kalam also said that the government should allocate more funds for research and development (R&D) in the defence sector. “More thrust has to be given for government funding for R&D even to private companies to strengthen the indigenous R&D capability,” he said. Sharing his thoughts on ‘Growth with innovation is imperative to an economically developed India 2020’, the former president said that India can join the elite club of developed nation by 2020, if it achieves the growth rate of 9% and the industrial growth at 25%. “Our GDP is limping at 6.5% now. It should go to minimum 9% GDP, with our 600 million youth population and if our small scale industry, farmers and IT (information technology) are doing very well. With these backgrounds, there is a possibility of India becoming economically developed by 2020,” said Kalam in response to a question about his views on various programmes like Digital India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jan-Dhan Yojana, Make in India and others launched by the government. He also said that manufacturing industry has to be empowered to achieve 25% GDP contribution by 2020 from 16% as on 2015 by increasing depth in manufacturing, focusing on the level of domestic value addition, enhanced global competitiveness through appropriate policy support and sustainability of growth particularly with regard to the environment. “Today, 30% people live below poverty line. We can lift them up. Our industrial growth is only 15-16% and we have to go to 25%,” he added. Talking about technological innovations, Kalam said, “Our policy ecosystems do not keep in pace with possibilities and potentials presented by technologies and engineering. Also, bigger Indian businesses do not generally look for many such new opportunities.” Kalam also expressed concern over India’s 64th ranking in the Global Innovation Index, saying, “We should at least aim for coming in the first 10.”
May 22, 2015 | 5:13 pm IST.