“¦ everything has a time and place, and it is clear that private participation in defence preparedness is an idea whose time has come.
Would India be the kind of “industrial” and “knowledge” power that she is today, if it were not for the state driven initiatives of the 1950s and 1960s that created the IITs, the heavy industry, the research laboratories, the shipyards, the aircraft factories and many centres of excellence? On the other hand, would this country have realized its tremendous potential, had the barriers of state control not been brought down by Dr Manmohan Singh’s historic initiative to liberalize and globalize in 1991.
So obviously, everything has a time and place, and it is clear that private participation in defence preparedness is an idea whose time has come.
The extent of private sector involvement vis-a-vis the defence outlay has been comparatively limited this far. Why is this so? To an extent this could be attributable to the acquisition procedures hitherto and non-involvement of the private sector at the project conceptualization stage. On the other hand, the private sector often looks at short-term investment and returns, which inhibit strategic investments. The inability to export is another constraint; since the quantities required may often be restricted, there have to be concerted efforts to promote exports, within the bounds of national security.
The first issue that needs to be addressed is: ‘What’ product is required, and secondly, the nature of participation of private sector. In this regard the Navy had prepared a 15-year indigenization plan that was well received by the industry. A Science and Technology roadmap has been drawn up for the Navy that identifies the ‘end-product’ capabilities that needs to be built over the next 20 years. This has recently been presented to the DRDO, and the Department of Defence Production, and we will pass it on to the industry too. This roadmap gives a clear picture of technologies and products that are foreseen for induction and will further help define what can be taken up by industry.