March 14, 2019

Make in India - Aerospace & Defence - II

  • Dr. Ajay Kumar, IAS Secretary, Department of Defence Production, Government of India

    Dr. Ajay Kumar, IAS
    Secretary, Department of Defence Production, Government of India

  • Dr. V. K. Saraswat Member, Technical, NITI Aayog (Former Secretary, DRDO & Chief Scientific Advisor to the Minister of Defence)

    Dr. V. K. Saraswat
    Member, Technical, NITI Aayog (Former Secretary, DRDO & Chief Scientific Advisor to the Minister of Defence)

Synergia Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Defence Production, Government of India, hosted a roundtable, 'Make in India - Aerospace & Defence -II'. The objective of the event was to develop a conceptual framework to actualize the ‘Make in India’ programme by better understanding the underlying challenges, especially in the acquisition of strategic technologies, to enable India’s aerospace and defence sector to operate at full strength. The roundtable was attended by forty senior people - CEOs, senior directors from the public and private sectors, policymakers, experts from the defence industry and veterans from the armed forces.

Context

The Aerospace & Defence Industry in India is vital for the country. With a strength of over 1.3 million active personnel, it is the world’s 3rd largest military force. The lack of a healthy domestic industrial base means that the Indian military relies on imports, earning the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest arms importer.

Today, nearly 70% of all aircraft flown in India have engines and components made by global companies. In order to fuel growth in the Indian Aerospace Industry, it might be wise partnering with foreign original equipment manufacturers who have a long-term commitment to the Indian market. It’s important to note that business is a primary driver for technology transfer.

While modernising India’s ageing military equipment is essential, decision-makers need to realise that building capable, technologically-competitive armed forces is more than just purchasing or developing modern technology. Modernisation entails the development of institutions and personnel capable of efficiently managing resources and thinking strategically.

With a budget allocation of $55.9 billion to the Ministry of Defence, India is the world’s 5th largest spender on defence. Between 2012 and 2016, the country accounted for 14% of all global arms purchases, making India the world’s largest arms importer. This is likely to change with the government’s target to step up local sourcing to 70% and in turn reduce the defence budget by 50%.

With a value of about $16 billion and pegged around 13%, the Indian civil aviation market is also one of the fastest-growing in the world with travellers increasing at 20% every year. There are enormous opportunities for foreign investments and many global Aerospace and Defence companies are looking at India as a potential low-cost manufacturing destination and a high potential market.

Focus areas of discussion

  • What are the key challenges and opportunities to actualize the ‘Make in India’ program in the Aerospace and Defence sector?
  • How can the cyber and supply chain risks that stem from the integration of information systems with defence systems be best managed?
  • What obstacles stand in the way of acquiring strategic technologies to help Indian companies build competence?
  • How ready are we to absorb next-generation technologies? How can we address the widening technology gap? 
  • How will AI and robotics change the manufacturing landscape?  
  • What are the missing links in the ecosystem and how might these be plugged?
  • How can the sector attract high order investments from India and outside?
  • How can the global market share be increased?

 

Experts

Dr. Ajay Kumar, IAS
Dr. Ajay Kumar, IAS
Secretary, Department of Defence Production, Government of India

Dr. Ajay Kumar is the current Defence Production Secretary of India. He has served in various posts in both the Government of India and the Government of Kerala. His previous posts include Joint Secretary in the Department of Information Technology, Director in the Department of Biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology and Deputy Secretary in the Department of Home of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Dr. V. K. Saraswat
Dr. V. K. Saraswat
Member, Technical, NITI Aayog (Former Secretary, DRDO & Chief Scientific Advisor to the Minister of Defence)

Dr. Vijay Kumar Saraswat is an Indian scientist who formerly served as the Director-General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Indian Minister of Defence. He is the key scientist in the development of the Prithvi missile and its induction in the Indian armed forces. He is a recipient of the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.