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“New defence procurement policy encourages private sector”

Special Correspondent

Chief of Air Staff addresses students convocation of IIT-Madras

— Photo: R. Ragu

M.S. Ananth, Director, IIT-Madras, presenting a degree certificate to Naga Naresh Karuturi, who completed B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering, at the 45th convocation function in IIT-Madras on Friday. Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major (centre) is in the picture.

CHENNAI: The Defence Procurement Policy regulations have been amended to encourage private sector participation in defence production and to ensure that foreign vendors offset a specific percentage of their production to India, according to Chief of Air Staff Fali Homi Major.

Apart from procurement, research and development activities for defence purposes also needed to be expanded beyond the defence establishment to incorporate the efforts of the private sector and academia, said the Air Chief Marshal, addressing the graduating students of the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras at its 45th convocation. “Though the nation has a large pool of talented scientists, we have not been able to leverage this resource to move towards self-reliance at a desirable pace. R&D activities in most other countries are undertaken by industry in coordination with universities and institutions like yours,” he told the students.

So far as procurement is concerned, “the government desires greater private participation in defence production,” said the Air Chief Marshal. He added that “all our overseas contracts have an offset clause which implies that the companies we contract with have to ensure an offset of production by a specific percentage to India.” This means that a foreign company winning a Rs. 50,000 crore contract would have to invest 50 per cent of that sum in India, he said.

Much of the technology used by the armed forces is still sourced from outside the country, he said. “A considerable percentage of our strategic and tactical hi-tech military equipment like state-of-the-art third and fourth generation aircraft, ground-based and airborne sensors, air defence weapon systems and electronic warfare equipment is procured from foreign vendors due to non-availability of technology in our country,” he rued.

With expanding economic interests to safeguard, India could not continue to depend on others, he said. “Tomorrow, if you want a crucial defence system from anywhere else in the world, nobody is going to give it to you,” he warned. “It is absolutely essential to remain ahead of our adversaries. The nation needs the best minds to apply themselves to this effort. These are fields where the opportunity lies, and we look forward to institutions like IIT-Madras to offer solutions that make us independent of foreign crutches,” he said.

The new chairman of IIT-M’s Board of Governors, R. Chidambaram, said basic research in areas relating to industrial needs and strategic national interests were essential for sustainable economic growth. To become a global innovation leader, India needed technology foresight, coherent synergy in its science and technology activities and an effective innovation ecosystem, said Dr. Chidambaram, who is also the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Union government.

IIT-M director M.S. Ananth reported on the institute’s activities in the last academic year and some of its plans for its golden jubilee year before awarding degrees to those graduates present.

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