With the view to fortifying the country’s maritime infrastructure, the Confederation of India Industry (CII) and National Maritime Foundation (NMF) organized a conference on ‘Building the Builders Navy’ to accelerate the country’s growth through Public-Private and Academic Partnership, in Chennai on Friday. The seminar focused on industry and academic bodies acting as supporting pillars for the indigenous development of defence equipment and highlighted the roadblocks that need to be cleared to gain traction in this area.
Focusing on the strengths and resources of maritime infrastructure in the nation, Vice-Admiral B Kannan, chief of material, integrated HQ of the ministry of defence (Navy), said, “The Indian Navy has been fortunate to have responded to the warship building requirements with vigour since we started indigenous construction of warships at Mazagaon Dock, Mumbai. Today, with more than 100 odd ships constructed in the country at various shipyards, our capabilities have been significantly enhanced. We have more than 40 warships on order with various public and private shipyards and it has been our endeavor to progressively enhance their indigenous content.”
It is estimated that the Navy is poised for 35 per cent growth over the next 15 years during which new types of platforms using new technologies will be inducted. In addition to giving opportunities to indigenous industries to participate in shipbuilding, it will also give them a chance to explore the emerging international market.
Viewing shipbuilding in its overall strategic context and focusing on the nation’s development, Admiral (Retd.) Sureesh Mehta, chairman, NMF & former chief of naval staff, said the maritime world can be seen as a primary facilitator of globalisation, because it enables about 90 per cent of world trade. “The Navy has in the past few years, repeatedly called for a multi-pronged strategy to revitalise the Indian shipbuilding industry–a new approach that must encompass modernization of shipyards, induction of contemporary technologies and construction process, enhancement in ship-design knowledge, fiscal incentives and public-private partnerships,” he added.
Emphasising the need for skilled manpower, Dr TS Sridhar, additional chief secretary, higher education department, Tamil Nadu said: “It’s my privilege to position knowledge management as the key to the nation’s self reliance. The needs of hardware capabilities have to be supported by adequate software capabilities and quality assurance.”
Sridhar said with Tamil Nadu emerging as a centre for knowledge and innovation backed by a diverse range of educational institutions, the state is well equipped to achieve all the goals enumerated in the nation’s Vision for 2013.
JN Amrolia, chairman, CII Southern region industrial relations sub-committee and advisor, Ashok Leyland, opined that given the current strategic scenario and the size of the Indian defence budget of Rs 1,93,000 crore, the need to modernise the Navy is critical.