‘Lack of clarity hinders enforcement of defence procurement policy ‘

PUNE: Noted industrialist Baba Kalyani has said that lack of clarity on implementation of thedefence procurement policy (DPP), 2013, remains a key hurdle in the process of defence industrialisation and innovation in the country.

On June 1, the ministry of defence unveiled the DPP, 2013, which lays down the process for buying defence equipment for the military. The policy is aimed at infusing greater efficiency in the procurement process and strengthening the defence manufacturing base in the country.

Kalyani, who is chairman and managing director of Bharat Forge and head of CII’s defence and aerospace committee, was addressing a defence-industry meet on Saturday morning.

The meet was organised by the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), a deemed university under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). S Sundaresh, chief controller of R&D, and S S Mantha, chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education, were guests of honour.

Kalyani said, “The new DPP is good to the extent that it encourages (involvement of) private sector industry in defence manufacturing, but nobody in the South Block in New Delhi knows how to implement it. This generates tremendous hesitation, piecemeal and turf-led approach as everybody is after safeguarding their own turf. As a result, I would be very surprised if anything comes out of the new policy.”

He said, “India needs to overcome this turf-led approach in defence industrialisation to be able to catch up with the western world in terms of technology.”

He added, “R&D, industry and academia are the three pillars of defence industrialisation, but there is a fourth pillar in the form of oversight at multiple levels that tends to undermine whatever the three pillars do. We have a large trust deficit in this country and oversight comes through this trust deficit. Unless and until this mindset is removed and we start trusting each other, I am afraid progress will not happen.”

Kalyani said, “The transition of defence products designed in DRDO or other labs into products of mass manufacturing is simply not happening as there is no clarity in terms of how to achieve such a transition. The DPP is a case in point.”

Referring to industry-academia collaboration, Kalyani said institutions like DIAT can play a key role in promoting testing facilities required by the industries to evaluate various products. “The industry can participate in three ways – by sponsoring students for projects, getting involved in specific projects where they want to do testing and evaluation, and promoting fundamental research by creating a chair,” he said. Creation of centres of excellence in select areas of defence products and incubators for new technologies and intellectual property rights is also a way forward, he added.

Earlier, Sundaresh gave a broad overview of DRDO’s engagement with the Indian industry since the 1970s and how the industry had evolved into an able partner in the process of defence manufacturing. “The industry wanting to move in the defence market is far more capable today and understands the requirements of the market. What we expect is that the industry should have flexible manufacturing process and should invest more in R&D,” he said.

Sundaresh said, “The DRDO is also extending a number of research projects to academic institutions through its IPR cell in New Delhi. As of now, between 400 and 500 projects have been given to 150 institutions, involving an annual budget of Rs 30 crore. We want to increase this budget to Rs 100 crore in the years ahead.”

In his speech, Mantha said the industry had a big role to play in developing skilled youth as part of the national skill development mission. “We need trainers and a lot of support from the industry to push the skill development programme…This is also important from the viewpoint of increasing the gross enrolment ratio (GER), ie, the percentage of students in the age group of 17 to 22 accessing higher education, from the existing 19% to much higher levels. Promoting vocational education is one way of improving GER and securing gainful employment for the youth,” he said.

DIAT vice-chancellor Prahlada, Armament Research and Development Establishment director Anil Datar and other senior officials from the DRDO establishments were also present.

SOURCE: Times Of India