Innovation in defence sector below par: Antony

November 14th, 2011 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) Calling upon India’s defence public sector undertakings and ordnance factories to invest in research and development, Defence Minister A.K. Antony Monday expressed displeasure over their performance in innovation and said the trend of over-dependence on imports for the armed forces should be reversed.

“In the area of innovation, our progress is not up to the expectations,” Antony told the defence PSUs and Ordnance Factories at a function to present the Raksha Mantri’s (Defence Minister’s) Awards for Excellence for the year 2009-10 here.

“We need to keep imports to the bare minimum possible… We need to accelerate our indigenisation process in a big way,” Antony told them.

He said the requirements of the forces will only increase over a period of time and till now, India has been “over-dependent on imports” to meet the requirements.

“The earlier we reverse this trend, the better it is for our defence industry — not only in economic terms, but also in terms of military infrastructure,” he said.

“The only need is to maintain a sharp focus on the core areas of activity,” Antony added.

Asking the defence PSUs and OFB to factor in the future requirements of the end-users, that is the armed forces, by holding regular consultations with them, he said this would ensure the best quality and timely delivery of the finished products that match their requirements and also meet the best international standards.

Antony said for the first time, the department of defence planning was involved in the exercise for the 12th Five Year Plan.

“I am sure that the reports of the working group on defence equipment and aerospace under the steering committee on industry for the 12th Five Year Plan, which contain some good recommendations that would facilitate innovation and development of defence industry,” he said.

Referring to the revised Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) issued this year that aims to provide a level-playing field for indigenous public and private defence industry, Antony said it should spur the defence PSUs and OFB to boost innovation and modernisation.

“Our public sector and private sector need to indulge in a healthy competition that further strengthens the defence industry as a whole. Rather than looking at each other as competitors, the public sector and the private sector must become participants in boosting the defence sector in general, and defence production, in particular,” he said.

“Our singular objective must be to keep down the import requirements to the bare minimum possible. The offset policy is an integral component of the DPP and it has been visualised to ensure more inflow of technology and foreign investments,” he added.

Reiterating that the defence PSUs and OFB should reform at a faster pace that they had done till now, Antony said modernisation must be accompanied by even greater transparency and accountability.

On research and development, he said not just the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), but all the DPSUs and OFB should take a lead in investing more and more time, money, and human resources.

“To achieve this objective, our DPSUs and OFBs must develop and encourage in-house capabilities. Increased self-reliance is the best way to strengthen the twin processes of modernisation and indigenisation,” he added.

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