By PK Ghosh
Chennai. Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) in association with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) organised three day ‘Defence Tech Summit 2020’ from January 3-5. A part of IIT-M annual fest ‘Shaastra’, Defence Tech Summit 2020 brought industry, Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs), academia together to deliberate upon the current industry requirements and how to make India a defence manufacturing and export hub while working in line with the Government policy of Make in India and indigenisation.
The IITM-led festival ‘Shaastra’ has been growing in size, substance and stature over the last two and a half decades of its inception. Shaastra has the distinction of being the first student managed technical festival in the nation and the Summit provided exposure to the participants on how technology has become the key to nation’s defence forces.
A Defence exhibition was also organised on this occasion which gave the participants an opportunity to interact with the companies which have been playing a major role in the defence sector. Not only this, it was also the opportunity for the companies to attract bright young minds into their fold.
The Summit comprised of three days of panel discussions and the defence exhibition. It also featured a series of lectures and demonstrations delivered by professionals from the field of defence technology and Government officials. A lecture demonstration on BrahMos Missile by Dr Sudhir Mishra; insights on War-Games Simulations by Dr Chitra Rajagopal, Director General (SAM), DRDO; an interactive session on counter terrorism by former Chief of Integrated Defence Staff and brain behind the surgical strikes of 2016 Lt Gen Satish Dua were the major highlights of the three day Summit.
Lt Gen Dua, speaking on the occasion, said: “Technology must be embraced, and the integration of disruptive technologies and counter-terrorism initiatives is the need of the hour.”
Day one of the Summit began with a discussion on “The Defence Start-up Ecosystem in India – The Way Forward,” in which professionals from start-ups and government officials from the Ministry of Defence covered all aspects with a view to present a complete dissertation of the current state of defence manufacturing in India.
From the Government and industry side, the Summit had the panelists as Sanjay Jaju, Joint Secretary, Defence Industries Production, MoD; JD Patil, Director and Senior Executive Vice President, L&T Defence and Sameer Joshi, Director, Newspace Research and Technologies to have discussion on “Defence Manufacturing Through the Years.”
The discussion also highlighted the manner in which start-ups can supplement established companies in the defence sector, and the method in which Government policies can be framed so as to encourage start-ups. With technology gaining immense importance in the defence sector and future conflicts having less human participation, “The Importance of UAVs in A Modern Defence System” was another area of focus during the Summit.
The day two session focussed on countering the growing menace of terrorism and included Soldier Tech where the participants of the Summit gave a special access and tour of the defence expo which witnessed participation from DRDO, BrahMos Aerospace, Indian Armed Forces, Data Patterns, MEL Systems and Services, HoloSuit, Aerospace Engineers, Newspace R&T, Aadyah Aerospace, Accord Software, Rodella Technologies etc.
With increasing terror threat to nations in the current century, the role of the armed forces to tackle this menace has been growing making the primary purpose of armies to keep them at bay. Thus, counter-terrorism is a major component of defence and any manner in which technology can augment the battle against terror will go a long way in the protection of the country.
Lt Gen PR Shankar, Head, Defence and Aerospace, IITM, in his concluding remarks said that there is a deep connect between the battlefield and technology. “The requirement of new technology comes from the battlefield and vice-versa,” he observed.
As part of the Summit, the participants were also given the opportunity to deal with, ideate upon and find solutions to a problem statement based on real time problems faced in the defence industry through a case study competition.
Organising Defence Tech Summit 2020, the initiative by IIT Madras students and Shaastra, was a significant step in the right direction to have a long term impact while creating positive vibes among the aspiring minds and motivate them to be a part of the Indian Government’s Make in India initiative. It also inspired them to contribute effectively to realise India’s long cherished goal of self-reliance through indigenous manufacturing and emerging as an export hub.