CHENNAI: India is looking at tapping new and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Robotics for its defence force and is betting on its strength on information technology domain.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who inaugurated the Defexpo on Thursday said that new and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are most important determinants of defensive and
offensive capabilities and India, with its leadership in Information Technology domain, would strive to use this technology tilt to its advantage.
He said a technology perspective and capability road-map has been released to help the industry in planning and initiating technology development, partnerships and production arrangements.
Quoting former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam “Dream! Dream! Dream! Dreams transform into thoughts, and thoughts result in action”, the prime minister said his dream is to Develop the Ecosystem to Foster an Environment of New and Creative Entrepreneurship in the defence manufacturing sector.
Stating that the goal is not merely to tinker, but to transform, the Prime Minister stressed on the need to move fast as the defence preparedness is hampered by policy paralysis.
"You would have seen how the issue of providing bullet proof jackets to Indian Army soldiers was kept hanging for years. And, you would have also seen that we have brought the process to a successful conclusion with a contract that will provide a boost to defence manufacturing in India," the prime minister said.
Hitting out at the previous Congress regime for failing to procure aircraft for Indian Air Force whose air squadrons have been depleting due to ageing aircraft, he said that, "We do not want to spend ten years in discussions without any tangible outcomes. We will work with you with a sense of mission to keep our defence forces equipped with state-of-the-art systems, and to create the necessary domestic manufacturing ecosystem to achieve this."
Stating that the Indian government role is not to lecture but listen, he said extensive consultations with all stakeholders, including both Indian and Foreign companies, about Defence Production and Defence
Procurement policy space will be conducted in weeks ahead.
Highlighting the ‘Innovation for Defence Excellence’ scheme which he inaugurated, the prime minister said it will set up Defence Innovation Hubs throughout the country to provide necessary incubation and
infrastructure support to the start-ups in defence area.
Stating that the two defence industrial corridors, including the one in Tamil nadu, will utilize the existing defence manufacturing ecosystems in these regions,and further build upon it, he said these
corridors will become the engines of economic development and growth of defence industrial base in the country.
"We have also established a Defence Investors Cell to assist and handhold the investors involved in Defence Production," he added. The Defence Procurement Procedure has also been revised by denotifying items made exclusively by Ordnance Factories, so that the private sector, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises can enter this space.
Highlighting the role played by BJP government in reviving the defence sector, he said on May 2014, the total number of defence export permissions granted stood at 118, for a total value of 577 million
dollars. "In less than four years, we have issued 794 more export permissions, for a total value of over 1.3 billion dollars," he said.
"From 2007 to 2013, the targeted offsets obligations were 1.24 billion dollars, of which only 0.79 billion dollars worth of offsets were actually discharged. That is, an achievement rate of only about 63 percent. From 2014 to 2017, the targeted offsets obligations were 1.79 billion dollars, of which 1.42 billion dollars worth of offsets were realized. This is an achievement rate of close to 80 percent. Procurement from Micro and Small Enterprises by the Defence Public Sector Undertakings and Ordnance Factories has gone up from about Rs. 3300 crores in 2014-15 to over Rs. 4250 crores in 2016-17. This is an
increase of close to 30 percent," he added.