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BW Businessworld

The Defence Industry Has The Potential To Become The Next IT (Revolution): Amandeep Singh

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Amandeep Singh, Head – Defence, Ashok Leyland talks about economy, skills, technology, national security and creation of jobs

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On the  potential of the defence industry to be the catalyst of industrial growth over the next five to ten years
India is pitching itself to be a Super Power in the new emerging world order. No country has been able to achieve this status without robust and self-sufficient defence capability.

This gives the defence industry a huge opportunity as well as a responsibility to build capability and capacity to a scale which would then become a significant contributor to industrial growth.

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

India has one of the largest Armed Forces and is also unfortunately geographically placed in one of the hotspots on the risk map of the world. This would lead to continuous and significant spending on defence in the foreseeable future.

The defence industry is inherently technology and labour intensive. If we are able to substitute even 50 per cent of our defence imports with localised production over the next ten years, the defence industry has the potential to become the next IT (revolution) in terms of investments and job creation.

On whether the government or political parties have the defence industry as the topmost priority on their agenda
We have seen over last few years that the intent to reform the policy framework has been there and a good progress has been made in this regard. However, implementation at the operating level, keeping the spirit of the policy changes in the forefront has to be hastened.

The mindset that the entire industry in theprivate sector is out to make undue profits has to change. At the same time profit cannot be a dirty word, as private companies exist for it.
On the challenges manufacturers face in the defence production space in the way of the huge R & D investment, technology gap and cost- overrun 
The defence business has a unique risk which very few industries have i.e. the Single Buyer Risk. While exports is always mentioned when this point is put across, it is also a fact that in defence other markets open up only when you have a domestically proven and used product.

We have the capability to overcome investment, technology gap and other challenges. However, the government’s handholding in the form of certain and time-bound purchases is a must to mitigate the Single Buyer Risk.

On the policy overhaul necessary to make defence production the ‘next big thing’ for the Indian economy 

At Ashok Leyland we have in the last few years invested in and indigenously developed many new mobility platforms like HMV 8x8, Ambulance 4x4, FAT 6x6 etc. which have replaced imported vehicles of the Indian Army.

We need continuity of purchases as per future requirements indicated so that we can recover significant investments that have gone in for development of such platforms.

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