The Defence Industry Can Give A Major Fillip To Growth Of Manufacturing: S.P. Shukla

In an interview with BW Businessworld, S. P. Shukla, Group President - Aerospace & Defence, Mahindra Group, talks about economy, skills, technology, national security and creation of jobs

On building capability and capacity in India and on harnessing the potential of the defence industry to be the catalyst of industrial growth over the next five to ten years 
India already has a thriving manufacturing sector. We are among the largest manufacturing hubs for automobiles, automotive components, pharmaceuticals etc. The defence industry has clearly been   identified as one of the key sectors for growth.  

In the next five to ten years it is the private sector industry that is likely to witness growth in this sector, which will augment the capacity of the defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs).

With reputed Indian companies like Mahindra, which have proven expertise in engineering and manufacturing of complex platforms and has partnerships with reputed global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the defence industry is certainly poised for exponential growth in the coming years.

On the defence industry being the ‘next big thing’ in terms of its contribution to the economy, skills, technology, national security and creation of jobs
The defence industry can give a major fillip to the growth of the manufacturing sector in India. Once a significant portion of the defence equipment which is currently being imported is produced indigenously, it will lead to growth in jobs and the economy.

Moreover, any sovereign nation would like to reduce its dependence on foreign countries for supply of critical defence equipment. This is important from the perspective of national security. Here again, a thriving Indian defence industry would ensure that we are able to remove the unflattering distinction of being the largest importer of defence equipment in the world.

On whether the government or political parties have given top most priority to the defence industry 
Over the years several key initiatives for indigenous manufacturing have been taken to ensure policy support for the industry.  Initiatives like the preference given to Indian equipment, reducing the requirement of licences, ERV protection, defence corridors and the strategic partnership policy have been taken very positively by the industry.

The Make in India initiative being endorsed by major political parties is a good indicator of consensus on the issue of prioritising indigenisation of defence production in India.

On the challenges manufacturers face in terms of the huge investment necessary in R & D, technology gap and cost overrun 

Reputed business houses like Mahindra have existing capabilities and a proven track record of delivering large projects on time. We have proven engineering and manufacturing capabilities, including those for designing and production of complex platforms.

On the policy overhaul necessary to spur the ‘next big thing’ in manufacturing for the defence sector 
Initiatives like Strategic Partnerships would ensure that these indigenous capabilities are fully utilised.

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