It requires technology that will make a man invisible, manufacture smart textiles, a wrist band that is a detection device, ammunition free energy weapons, and many more. Though this sounds like a wish list of some Hollywood production house, it is actually the Indian Army that needs this in its drive to indigenise its equipment capabilities.
And, this it proposes to do so not as it has been doing through import, but with the help of the Indian private sector, industry and academia.
Starting April 2016, the Army, under the leadership of Lt Gen Subrata Saha, Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (Planning and Systems), has been conducting road shows reaching out to the industry and academia to enable them meet the requirements of the Army indigenously. It has connected with nearly 1,400 industry representatives and three premier institutions – IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, and IIT Gandhinagar.
The one at PSG College of Technology that was held on August 10 and 11 was their fourth stop and unique in that it was the first non-IIT institution. The Army could not ignore the invitation from the Coimbatore Chapter of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) considering the rich academic, industrial and entrepreneurial heritage that the city is famous for.
According to Lt Gen Saha, Coimbatore is a promising hub to be tapped for Defence manufacturing. “It is very encouraging and inspiring to come to Coimbatore for its tremendous industrial potential and also the science and technology expertise that the institutions have to offer”.
With an aim to thwart “import of Army equipment and artillery that had become a legacy”, the Army is on a war path to modernise through indigenisation based on the 'Make in India' model of the NDA government.
And, that Coimbatore is “gung-ho” about this move is clear from what S. Narayanan, Vice-Chairman of CII Coimbatore has to say. “A number of industries including LMW, Roots Industries, and Bimetal Bearings have been supplying parts and bearings to Defence equipment and special purpose equipment over the years. Now more industries will come forward and work on the requirements laid down by the Army, especially in the areas of engineering goods and textiles”.
For some requirements like ergonomically designed light-weight bullet-proof jackets, cold protection gear, robots, survival kits, high-calorific energy bars, night vision gear, helmets, and so on, the Army is open to solutions from both the industry and academia.
With the Defence Procurement Policy undergoing a serious change, the Army is looking at solutions in the Indian Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) category. And, on these lines it is now “opening up and sharing its requirements with the right places”.
The first six chapters of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 has been uploaded on the 'Make in India' portal in the Ministry of Defence website to enable interested private players explore their level of involvement in the indigenisation initiative. There is information about the requirements of the Army, projects it is interested in, the funding options, and so on.
The Army Design Bureau, which will be the nodal agency between the Army and the private stakeholders, will be formally launched on August 31, and will encourage interactive connectivity via the portal www.makeinindiadefence.com.