From Lieutenant General Anil Kapoor (retired)
It can be said that a resurgent India on the move has embarked on a two and a half year technology sojourn. The first front is this Manufactured in India, as a forerunner of Made in India, the Second Front is Aatmanirbhar Bharat as a call to independence and the Half Front is Start-up India to inspire agile young minds for entrepreneurial ventures. All of this at the same time has created a tremendous range of technology and innovation and an excitement in India that has a technical reverberation around the world. A nation known for its technical prowess, made up of strategic thinkers and technology experts, the White Collared Enabler Professionals and skilled innovative tech people at the grassroots level, has ushered in an era in technology development by introducing the world to two groundbreaking concepts – “Jugaad”, which means an imaginative approach to problem solving and “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, which means self-reliance. These initiatives and more, visible at the Defense Exhibitions and the recently concluded Aero India Show in Bengaluru, embody India’s mark on the technology world.
The New Tech World Order is defined by the four Ds – data, digitization, digitization and disruption. While these have driven the digital transformation worldwide and have produced a large number of dual-use technologies that are drivers for automation and autonomous applications, it is the disruption that is not only changing technologies at an unprecedented pace, but also business concepts, models , Processes and practices methods exercises. While automated systems are rule-based, the autonomous systems are designed and programmed to make decisions and act. Supported by AI, IoT, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Big Data Analytics and BlockChain technology and connected by 5G networks, the cyber-based System of Systems has revolutionized dual-use and military technologies. A good example are Autonomous Unmanned Systems, which on the one hand created systems for global air traffic control, local traffic management, transformed precision manufacturing and much more, and on the other hand automated weapon systems, such as in the Azerbaijan – Armenia war 2020 by swarms of drones. These systems typically include a land-based autonomous fulcrum with the application software of the computerized system for information-based decision support of Command & Control, which is tightly integrated with the mobile maneuver arm, the actionable elements or combat elements in automated systems with man-in-the-loop or fully autonomous Systems with a man out of the loop. Automated unmanned systems encompass a variety of disruptive niche technologies, both at the hardware and software level.
With a country of India’s size, facilities, geographic location, regional and global requirements and perpetual security challenges (both internal and external), self-sufficiency in defense technologies is inevitable and must be the building of the national agenda. Lasting national security requires credible defense capabilities and the ability to deter, deter and counter conventional threats. Developing industrial infrastructure, strategic technology management and building a credible defense industrial base will be the future mainstay of developing countries like India. The task facing India is daunting as India is the second largest arms importer in the world and therefore the defense industry base in India is a constraint, both for maintaining military power and for developing as a hub for arms production.
India is now the world’s second largest importer of defense equipment. The defense industry’s focus must be on increasing domestic defense research, design, development and manufacture and, as a result, moving the country towards greater self-sufficiency and a net exporter of defense equipment. The Make in India, Aatmanirbhar Bharat programs and numerous policy initiatives such as FDI Policy, Negative Import List, Defense Industry Corridor, Defense Procurement Process Review and others, the long-term strategic partnerships have emerged as essential tools to solve and promote the existing problems Self-employment in the defense industry. Three core elements, namely “Defense” (need for security, policy formulation and implementation), “Industry” (suppliers of goods and services), resources (budget, technology, research and innovation) by competent and qualified personnel (defense technology, knowledge management and skills) are interdependent, as they together form the Defense Industrial Base (DIB).
It is therefore an opportune time to involve the academic community in order to create synergies with industry in general and the defense industry in particular, to start science, technology and engineering programs in defense technologies to create the turf for defense technology professionals. India has set out to modernize its armed forces. It is encouraging that the Master of Technology Defense Technology Program designed by DRDO and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is indeed a crucial moment for private and central universities to participate in this Defense Technology Program. Recently, Amity University in Noida and Gurugram Campus took up the challenge of leading this unique M Tech Def Tech program. The M Tech course includes six vertical courses that cover combat vehicles, navy, aerospace, and missiles, directional energies, high energy materials, communications and sensors, and disruptive technologies. Training knowledgeable and skilled defense technicians is believed to provide young aspiring engineers with great employment opportunities in the arena of Defense Startups, OEMs, Tier 1,2 and 3 Private Industries, DPSUs, Ordnance Factories and DRDO. These professionals are supposed to facilitate India in both defense and defense naturalization and as a stronger competitor in arms exports and catapult into the league of vast nations with the complex of defense industry. High time India wages its wars with Indian arms and military equipment.
The New World Order respects nations with the strength to manage VUCAD (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity and Disruption). Confused and concerned about the fight, a child opens the cocoon to let the butterfly fly away. Unfortunately, the butterfly could not fly and died because the wings did not develop the natural strength required by nature during the fighting moments of the decocoon. With good intentions but insufficient knowledge of the child’s “how and why” a potential creation has ended. Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Made-in-India have great strategic intent. Against the background of a strong technical base through ISRO, DRDO, technology and innovation centers of industry and PSUs, start-ups and technology hubs, the time is ripe to strengthen the cocoon with qualified defense technology experts and to fly the technology butterfly worldwide. The tech stay has to become an illustrious, lasting tech journey. Let the young people take part in the nation-building exercise through M Tech in defense technology – the future lies here and beckons.
(The author has retired as Director General Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (DG EME) and is currently an Honorary Advisor to Amity University. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policies of Financial Express Online.)