The new scientific adviser to the defence minister has warned that the private sector’s shaky confidence in defence business could be a stumbling block to the Make in India programme, proposing more incentives for the industry to realise its full potential.
In his first interview since taking over on June 4, G Satheesh Reddy told HT, “China’s sharp focus on making its own military hardware during the last 10 years has produced results. Their private sector has powered indigenous defence production in a big way. Our private industry is hobbled by confidence deficit, which has to be addressed.”
Reddy, 51, said India’s private industry was “maturing” but had doubts about assured orders, sustained growth and government support. “We need to ease restrictions on exports, award incentives to build manufacturing facilities and encourage the private sector to pursue research and development,” said Reddy.
He identified artillery systems, combat vehicles and ammunitions as areas with tremendous scope for indigenisation.
Reddy said his focus would be on expanding the Make in India programme to include advanced technologies such as high-tech sensors, detectors, nano vehicles, long-range systems, high-performance composite materials and propulsion systems.
“Identifying futuristic research areas is crucial if India has to break out of the ‘catch up’ mould and compete with nations at the cutting edge of advanced technology,” he said.
India is the world’s biggest importer of weapons, dependent on foreign suppliers for 70% of its military requirements.
Reddy has set his sights on cutting down this dependence to 50% over the next five years and also streaking ahead of China on the self-reliance index.“We should be able to meet 75% of our requirements locally in the next 8-10 years.
100% indigenisation is neither feasible nor required due to costs involved.”
The post of scientific adviser was held by the defence research and development organisation (DRDO) chief until the NDA government bifurcated the roles.