‘Home-made tech will win us future wars,’ says Army chief Bipin Rawat
Batting for greater indigenisation in the military sector, Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday asserted that India would fight and win the next war with locally produced weapons and systems.
National security adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval also underscored the need to develop niche technologies to buttress national security, and retain an edge over India’s adversaries while drawing attention towards the country’s security vulnerabilities and stressing that there were no trophies for runners-up.
The two made the comments while addressing the country’s top military scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) 41st directors’ conference.
In his address, defence minister Rajnath Singh asked the scientists to work towards developing cutting-edge technologies to make India not only self-reliant but also a global leader in defence manufacturing.
The comments come at a time when India has set a target of emerging as one of the top five countries in the aerospace and defence sectors in the coming years, with defence goods and services accounting for a turnover of ~1.7 lakh crore by 2025, according to the Defence Production Policy 2018.
The policy said that achieving the target would require an investment of ~70,000 crore and create up to three million jobs. Another goal is to clock military exports worth ~35,000 crore by 2025.
“We are looking at systems for future warfare. We have to start looking at the development of cyber, space, laser, electronic and robotic technologies and artificial intelligence,” the army chief said, highlighting the need to sharpen the focus on non-contact warfare. He praised the steps taken by DRDO to meet the military’s requirements through home-grown solutions.
Promoting indigenisation under the Make in India scheme and cutting the military’s dependence on imported weapons is one of the top priorities of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. India was the world’s fourth biggest military spender last year behind the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia, according to data released in April by think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Doval said India needed to take a hard look at what its military needed to have an edge over its adversaries as better equipped armies have decided mankind’s history. He said, “India’s own historical experience on this has been sad, we were the runner-up. There is no trophy for the runner-up. Either you are better than your adversaries or you are not there at all.”
The NSA said technology and finances were the two key factors that would shape geopolitics. “Who wins depends upon who has preponderance over their adversaries on technology and money. Of the two, technology is more important,” Doval stressed.
He said India also needed to scale up its capacity for technology absorption. “In the world of distributed production for manufacturing of items, systems integration becomes most important. India needs to enhance its capabilities for technology absorption not only in the laboratories but also in production of systems.”
Speaking at the inaugural session on the theme, Technology Leadership for Empowering India, the defence minister said the world was changing fast and advanced and disruptive technologies were emerging at a swift pace. “Development of technology should be cost effective and time efficient,” the minister said. The top officials also paid tributes to former president, the late APJ Abdul Kalam, on his 88th birth anniversary. Singh asked the scientists to focus on developing technologies that would remain relevant over the next 15 to 20 years. “There are certain limitations in technology and there is a gestation period for development of products. It is possible that during the gestation period of complex systems, new technical requirements emerge. Spiral development should be given priority for such systems,” he said.
Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh highlighted the need for the military to stay technologically current. “When we speak of warfare, it is changing at a rapid pace because it is being driven by technology. It is very necessary for us to have a technologically up to date force. For us, maintaining the right technological mix is crucial,” he said.
Experts said indigenisation was the key and had to be expedited. “Our efforts towards indigenisation have been sluggish. A lot more needs to be done to become self reliant in the defence sector and become less dependent on weapon imports. It is also equally critical to identify the best technologies in the world and infuse them into our system through the transfer of technology,” said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd).