The Union Budget of 2012-13 hiked the defence budget to the tune of `1,93,407 crore ($ 40.44 billion) — a hike of 17 per cent over the previous year and yet, 75 per cent of our inventory is imported. One of the major causes for the paucity of indigenous innovation could be that intellect has not been channeled properly and that we do not have enough qualified talent in defence technology.
“In terms of defence education, we are looking at a transformation from a mass based system to an exclusive and individualised model that can lead to innovation and experimentation,” says Shekhar Dutt, Governor of Chattisgarh and former deputy National Security Adviser and Defence Secretary.
He says that it is easier for developed economies to adopt to defence needs. But ours is a land of opportunities and has a crying need for intellect. “We have a reasonable talent pool that can be invested in our defence education,” he adds.
According to Cmde S Shekhar (retd), there are four pillars of our national defence establishment — end user (armed forces), designers (Defence Research and Development Organisation at present), manufacturers (ordnance factories and government sector) and the academia. We seem to be lacking is the academic knowledge specific to the defence sector.
Dean of the Centre for Defence and Technology Studies (CDTS), Hindustan University, Chennai, Gopalji Malviya says, “Our aim is to launch four courses by the next academic year — MBA in defence technology, PG diploma in defence management, MPhil and PhD in defence and strategic studies. In addition, we are also looking at training DRDO personnel and armed forces. Cross teaching and research with our partner, Cranfield University, UK, will help in taking
defence education to greater heights.” Contrary to popular belief, technology development is not a purely scientific pursuit. To realise a product in practicality, many disciplines need to come together — planning, manufacturing, accounting, designing, engineering, management, logistics, robotics, nanotechnology, healthcare, etc. “We may have many engineers pass out every year, but how many know the basics of ship building or army aircraft technology? Specialised training, therefore, is the only way. Hindustan’s CDTS is an example of a movement in that direction,” adds Cmde Shekhar.
If cutting edge technology is where your passion lies, a gamut of options are available to civilians — designing, developing tools/weapons, IT security, research, analysis, operations and maintenance, etc. Apart from this, you can help explore options in healthcare — physical and mental. Training, logistics, management also require personnel. The DRDO undertakes research and analysis in aeronautics, weaponry, electronic and computer sciences, HRD, life sciences, missiles, combat vehicles development and naval research and development — you could find a spot for yourself there! Private sector companies like L&T, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and Reliance Aerospace Technologies are also being encouraged to play a bigger role in defence technology implying more civilian talent in defence.