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'Invest more in R&D for India to keep pace with evolving world'


Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addresses during the 'SIDM Champion Award' at the North-Tech Symposium held at IIT in Jammu on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. (Photo: PTI)

JAMMU (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday called upon domestic defence companies to invest more in research and development for India to keep pace with the evolving world.

Addressing the North-Tech Symposium, jointly organised by Indian Army's Northern Command, the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) and IIT-Jammu, Singh described the country's defence manufacturing sector as "imaginative, innovative, dynamic and progressive".

"Though research and development (R&D) is a risky venture as it requires out-of-the-box thinking and sometimes does not give desired results, it still remains one of the basic elements for the development of any country," he said. Hence, capital investment in R&D becomes a necessity, the Minister added.

The Defence Minister said India is passing through a transitional phase. "There is nothing wrong in acquiring a technology through imitation or transfer, but we cannot become a developed nation on these grounds alone. We need to file our own patents, for which a lot of investment in R&D is needed," he said. He said capital investment in R&D may reduce today's profits, but it will prove to be beneficial to the industry and the country in the long term.

Highlighting the steps taken by Narendra Modi government to support the domestic industry, he said the synergy between the government and domestic companies has resulted in record defence production of Rs 1 lakh crore and exports of Rs 16,000 crore in financial year 2023-24.

Singh expressed confidence that defence exports will soon touch the Rs 20,000-crore mark.

He extended the Ministry of Defence's continued support to the industry for holistic development of the nation, in line with the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' initiative.

The Defence Minister urged industry partners to focus on creating a culture that encourages R&D, based on skilled human resources, and suggested linking the work of institutions such as IITs, IIMs and IISc with the defence sector to create an R&D ecosystem.

"Efforts should be made to connect with the Indian R&D sector, engineers and scientists who work in top universities, companies, space agencies and scientific research organisations abroad and wish to be a part of India's growth story," he said.

The Defence Minister also recommended hiring of managers, legal experts and financial experts from within the country and abroad to create a culture conducive for R&D.

"We cannot run our workforce in the 21st century on the basis of HR policies of the 19th century. Today, the quality of work is more important than the number of hours worked. Focus should be on intellect and innovation," he said.

The Defence Minister said that "a work culture needs to be developed where there is a concept of senior and junior, and not superior and inferior". He also noted that there is a need to involve women in R&D with "more effectiveness".

He also exhorted the SIDM to create an independent body, comprising scientists and experts from the industry, which will work with transparency and evaluate the products made by companies.

"The buyer or the government will definitely try to check the quality of the products from their end, but there is a need to develop a system for internal evaluation as well. This quality check system will increase your credibility globally with time," he said.

He also suggested that the SIDM should create an internal vigilance mechanism to counter the potential cases of corruption and favouritism. "If any company affiliated with you is indulging in any wrongdoing or passing wrong information, then you should bring it before the government.

Such actions will further increase people's trust in the institutions," Singh said.

The North Tech symposium is an event conducted annually and this year, it was organised at IIT-Jammu.

The event witnessed an participation of around 200 industry partners and provided an opportunity for knowledge diffusion among various stakeholders to create awareness of contemporary technologies and hardware solutions available with manufacturers under 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'.

Singh witnessed a plethora of indigenous weapons and equipment. He lauded the efforts of all stakeholders in their joint efforts to push the domestic defence industry.

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