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''Pvt sector should play bigger role in defence needs"

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Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral Satish Soni at NAMEXPO 2013. A BNS photo.

KOCHI (PTI): The private sector should play a 'bigger role' to meet the requirements of armed forces, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral Satish Soni, has said.

"We would like the private sector to play a bigger role to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces. We are aware that development in the field of defence systems is inherently technology intensive and requires substantial investment of time and resources', he said speaking at the inaugural session of a naval seminar on Monday.

The seminar is being held as part of NAMEXPO, a five-day premier Naval and Maritime Exposition being organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), along with the Navy, Kerala Government and Ministries of MSME and shipping.

NAMEXPO aims to explore the business opportunities for the industry in the Indian naval and maritime sector, besides showcasing existing capabilities of the industry to end users.

Soni said there is large space for private Industry and DPSUs to co-exist in the scope of infrastructural development, weapon and sensors and logistics in the defence sector.

The Vice Admiral said the importance of strengthening the indigenisation efforts is obvious from the numerous steps taken by the government by way of amendments to the DPP in the revised version of 2013.

"These changes clearly emphasise the development of home grown technologies rather than import dominated procurements which have been in vogue," he said.

Indigenous firms have been given priority in procurements through the provisions of 'Buy Indian' and 'Buy & Make Indian' clauses. 'Buy Global' is to be resorted as the last option with due justification.

Soni said that if defence corporates want to be global competitors, they must be ready to invest in Research and Development and strive to produce state-of-the-art equipment.

"Currently in India, it is Defence Research and Development Organisation which has the responsibility towards R&D in niche defence technologies and our investments are very modest."

Even smaller countries like Israel and South Korea spend larger percentages of their GDPs on R&D, he said.

In developed countries, the private sector contributes a major share of total R&D funding. The Vice Admiral suggested that industrial houses, like their western counterparts, invest more in defence R&D, especially high-end areas.

In his special address, A Sivthanu Pillai, CEO and Managing Director, BrahMos Aerospace, said there is need to identify, enlist and categorise defence companies in public and private sectors to develop a Military Industrial complex to help facilitate self reliance and indigenisation in the defence sector.

The companies can categorised on the basis of the products they manufacture, he said.

Indian industries should look into opportunities for JVs, he said.

In his inaugural address, Ports minister K Babu said foreign firms are now looking at India as an attractive destination to forge alliances for more cost-effective production of defence items. Global players are outsourcing work orders to Indian companies, given the latter's high degree of skill and cost competitiveness.

With more focus on investment in R&D and innovation, technology acquisition, technology transfer, infrastructure and skills, a vibrant domestic defence industrial sector can be created in India for which Industry needs a conducive and transparent policy environment, he said.

The event will showcase naval avionics, equipment, underwater systems and weapons along with other products related to the maritime industry.

Exhibitors from various countries including, US, Russia, Germany, France, Japan and UK are participating.

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, which faced allegations of bribery and corruption in its VIP helicopter deal with India early this year, is also participating in the expo.

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NAMEXPO  Navy  India  
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