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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (July 2015)

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There is a seamless link between all the most sophisticated battle ships, combat aircraft, advanced tanks and other heavy equipment used by the army. That seamless link is intrinsically connected to India’s quest for industrial growth, economic opportunities and fulfilling the aspirations of many in the job market. It is something with which India is well versed and which could provide an even brighter future for India’s economic growth. And its national security. In a nutshell that seamless link is software, with which many in India seem to have developed an innate ability. The connection goes something like this.

All of the most advanced military hardware nowadays is increasingly dependent on greater advances in software. The most stealthy ship or aircraft is only as good as its software. And the most powerful tank is as lethal as its software’s ability to handle the gun and fire control systems. Not to forget its mobility too. Software is something India has developed into an inbuilt ability, no pun intended. Thousands of young software engineers and programmers perform millions of algorithms to produce world-class computing abilities. All of which is also in major demand in the world’s military industrial complex.

Now imagine the thousands of Indian software engineers plugging away at their modems and keyboards, writing and rewriting advanced combat capable programmes from their work stations in India. Now imagine the economic and military consequences of those actions. Firstly, by the sheer fact that those thousands of software engineers were gainfully employed within India. And secondly by the fact that their output, in terms of sophisticated software products, could well change the way India makes combat equipment and fights its wars. Future of combat is sophisticated software guiding advanced hardware into battle. That software capability exists in India and it is now a question of giving an opportunity to the other portion.

For India to be secure it needs to make and own the software that drive its advanced weapons systems, land, sea or air. Wherever the hardware be sourced the final performance is determined by the software, the avionics eg that deliver the punch. Which is why it is well-nigh time now for India to begin the process of making in India for the defence sector. It is only when India makes its own will it ever be safe and secure. Dependence on imports creates its own and another cycle of dependence, from which India has yet to extricate itself. And then its also a question of industry and opportunities.

Scores of bright young Indians leave the country every year because they don’t get a chance to participate in research and development. Scientists and engineers find R&D the most exciting part of their job. But the scope in this direction is limited, as our opportunities. There are still others who leave the country because they want to mix R&D with business opportunities. For which the scope is further limited. It doesn’t have to be so in permanence.

The opportunity to make in India for defence is yet not attractive enough for researchers and investors because of various protocols and missing links. Once that bit is taken care of, the sky is literally the limit for defence sector manufacturing in India. It is for the Government of India to give space to industry so as to enable it to enter the defence manufacturing sector. Simply transfer of technology is not enough and is not what the country needs in the long run. What is needed is a dynamic R&D base, vibrant manufacturing side and a competitive edge that also allows India to export some of its defence products.

Defence public sector units are limited in their scope and ability to deliver. It is now that the private sector should be encouraged to enter the game, whilst playing on a level playing field. Employment, after all, is the key to a bright future for India. In this case security needs are being met, while employment opportunities are also going to be on the rise. Any sector that can absorb thousands of bright young Indians and at the same time address the country’s security concerns, is a field that must be encouraged and promoted. Which is why the time is ripe for a make in India for defence campaign.


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