Self-Belief Essential as India is on the Right Path in Defence Sector, Say Expert Panellists

By Sri Krishna

Defence Industry

New Delhi: “We have to believe in ourselves and if we have will and we are on the right path and even though challenges will come, we should never give up our ultimate goal of world class,” said Puneet Kaura, MD and CEO of Samtel Avionics in a panel discussion at the Economic Times Aerospace and Defence Summit 2021.

Participating in a discussion along with Air Marshal (Retd) Bhushan Gokhale, Chairman of Larsen and Toubro and President SIDM, J.D. Patil and Lt Gen (Retd) P.R. Shankar, former DG Artillery, Kaura said “this government is putting all effort and we feel very encouraged and that change is around the corner and though we have challenges, we will overcome them.”

J.D. Patil participating in the panel discussion said, “Government allowed enormous amount of dialogue and the doors of the Ministry of Defence opened for suggestions from the industry.” He said that when Manohar Parrikar became Defence Minister, “what all he did and followed up has in the last five to six years led to big ticket policy reforms which have now come in place.”

Patil said the government decision to ban imports of 101 defence related items is indeed a “strong statement,” and Indian industry can do things.

“We now see a scenario of Atmanirbhar and it is not only in design in India but also Make in India and Make for the World. Of course, there are gaps but we have to see what can be done. In the last five years exports have started going up,” Patil said.

Taking the discussion further, Lt Gen (Retd) Shankar said “We have achieved a lot” but with India being a rising power, “there is need to be independent. Defence and aerospace are going through transformation and we are shifting from the legacy systems.”

Having been DG, Artillery, Shankar said that it is just not air, land and sea battles but “today, its multi-domain battles.” He said China is upgrading its entire war machinery in Tibet and “it is going according to a plan.”

On the other  hand, India has to manage within the existing budget and it has to be seen what more can be done within the budget and “we have to rethink our processes.” He wondered whether India can do more to counter this by putting together civil-military, aerospace, disruptive technologies and artificial intelligence and move ahead.

“ We need to have a central ministry in one place and a joint operation of defence and aerospace together,” he said.

Shankar stressed on the need to encourage Start-ups and IIT students and the academia should be given the necessary boost and it is very important and asked “are we doing enough. Ideas and challenges response is far below par.”

Stating that “we have got the best systems,” Lt Gen (Retd) Shankar said, “Pinaka is the best system but today it has taken 20 years to become one of the best after failure. We have to be patient and also do we have the staying power. Otherwise, we will not become Atmanirbhar in the next ten years.”