With Indian Space Research Organisation’s Mars Orbiter mission venturing out of the earth’s sphere for the first time, the country has crossed a major milestone in space
history. India has joined the elite club of interplanetary travellers ,which includes the United States, Europe, and Russia.
Having said that, the country is still way behind in terms of research and development (R&D) in the aerospace industry. At present, India spends only 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on R&D, which is much below that of developed countries.
Satish Kaura, chairman of Samtel Group and co-chairman of CII National Committee on Defence and Aerospace ,says, “R&D is critical to the sustenance of the aerospace industry. Countries like Russia and the US spend large amounts on defence related R&D every year. In France, R&D activities absorb more than 15% of the annual turnover of French aerospace companies. We have to imbibe and promote such a culture of spending more on innovation and R&D. This will generate more employment in the country.”
“The aerospace industry has a lot of potential. Currently, we are lacking in terms of human resource, finances and infrastructure. Mission mode with high political and resource back up is required,” says Anjan Das, executive director, CII.
Despite having 380 universities, 11,200 colleges, 1,500 research institutes and the second largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world, aeronautics is not a preferred subject of study in India.
“Most of the students who study aeronautics are working in other countries. Is it because the whole industry is reposed with the government or pay packages are not enough and there is no scope for growth in India? We need to encourage private players to come forward and employ the best of the lot,” says Air Marshal PP Reddy, VM, DG (inspection and safety), Indian Air Force.
“Indian Air Force is going to procure equipment and platforms worth US$150 billion in the next 15 years”, Reddy adds. “There is a growth of about 5% in passenger traffic. We are expected to have over 80 to 100 smaller airports coming up in smaller towns in the next few years. There is a requirement of 150 pilots per year, but it is sad that there aren’t many students graduating in aeronautics.”