India must set new goals according to the constantly-evolving global scenario and research & development, with active private sector participation, is the way to achieve the preparedness required to deal with future challenges. This was stated by Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh while addressing a seminar ‘Aatmanirbharta in Defence R&D – Synergistic Approach’ organised by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of the 12th DefExpo in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on October 20, 2022.
Rajnath Singh listed out a number of policy reforms undertaken by the government to achieve ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence crucial for staying ready to deal with future security challenges. He made special mention of the announcement of fourth positive indigenisation list of 101 made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the opening ceremony of DefExpo 2022, terming it as a matter of great pride that now over 400 defence items will be procured from domestic vendors.
The Raksha Mantri also spoke about the decision to dedicate one-fourth of the defence R&D budget to industry led R&D, saying that these are just some of the many steps which have laid the foundation of a strong self-reliant defence industry, sufficient to equip the Armed Forces with latest weapons/equipment. He exuded confidence that with the active participation of the private sector, the Armed Forces will be better prepared to deal with security challenges faced by the nation.
“India has embarked on a journey of self-reliance of R&D in defence. Private sector will play a crucial role in taking us to the destination. Both public and the private sectors are the wheels, with which the R&D vehicle will move towards complete self-reliance. With collaborative efforts of the Government and the industry, we will realise the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’,” Rajnath Singh said.
The Raksha Mantri also highlighted the crucial role played by DRDO in synergising the efforts of the industry, academia and Defence R&D towards fuelling India’s mission of ‘Aatmanirbharta’. He lauded DRDO for contributing towards enhancing the capability of the Armed Forces by developing various futuristic and first-of-its-kind innovations and technologies. He added that the organisation is no longer a sole service provider for defence R&D, but has also become a facilitator for in-house R&D and the private sector.
On the occasion, Rajnath Singh felicitated the ‘Dare to Dream 3’ winners and launched the ‘Dare to Dream 4’ contest to encourage innovation through the Indian scientific community. He congratulated the winners of Dare-to-Dream 3 and said that the contest promotes new ideas and innovative thinking in individuals and start-ups.
The Raksha Mantri also presided over the signing of MoUs with academic institutions and Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO), Indian Navy for the formation of DRDO-Industry-Academia – Centres of Excellence (DIA-CoEs). The academic institutions included IIT Roorkee, IIT Jodhpur, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Kanpur, IIT BHU and Bharatiya University. These centres act as research nodes for the country in identified subjects which are building blocks for futuristic technologies. The MoUs with academic institutions will initiate the work in the focussed areas for advanced research in defence. Long term and short-term research areas will be balanced to address the current needs and lay the foundations for futuristic technologies.
In addition, Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre division of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and M/s Accord Systems and Software were awarded the design organisational approval certificates. Guidelines on the Human Reliability Factors and Human Reliability Assessment was released by Raksha Rajya Mantri Ajay Bhatt for the benefit of all the stakeholders of the ecosystem. Two monographs authored by the former scientists of DRDO were also released by the Raksha Rajya Mantri. Design Organisation Approval Scheme certificates were also handed over to the industries on the occasion.
A book titled ‘Compilation of 8 years major achievements of DRDO, Ministry of Defence (2014-2022)’ was also released by Rajnath Singh. The book contains various achievements of DRDO giving brief descriptions of major launches, flight trials, ToTs, DRDO-industry-academia partnership, etc.
The second session was chaired by Secretary DDR&D Dr Samir V Kamat wherein presentations were made by all stakeholders of the defence R&D. Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri Dr G Satheesh Reddy chaired the panel discussions. The seminar was also attended by senior distinguished service officers, officials from Ministry of defence, IIT Directors, industry representatives, academia, DRDO scientists and others.