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Parrikar looks to academia for innovative ideas in defence production

19 March 2016

Defence ministry will actively collaborate with top academic institutions, including the IITs, NITs, IISc and other such institutions, to tap innovative ideas for defence production and development, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said.

The minister said he has already instructed defence units, including Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to tap academic potential for research and product development.

"I have already instructed DRDO and our other organisations to tie up with academic institutions in tapping the potential for innovation there and use it for not just academic research but also for defence production, based on merit," Parrikar said.

The defence minister, an IIT-Bombay alumnus, was speaking at the opening ceremony of the three-day technical festival 'Cognizance 2016' of IIT Roorkee.

"Some IITs, some NITs, IISc, some regional engineering colleges and other top academic institutions, we have planned to tie up with to work out R&D not just for innovation but production in the defence sector too.

"And, I think in six [to] twelve months we should be in a position to start the programme," he said.

Addressing a gathering of students, academicians and guests at the Convocation Hall, Parrikar said the government is determined to fulfilling the 'Make in India' vision and asked students to contribute to the country's growth story.

"I don't claim that all intelligence lie at IITs, but a substantial amount of it does. I mean look at this Convocation Hall, it was a hangar used during the Second World War or something and you have turned in into this big facility, therein lies your innovation," he said, as he received a loud applause.

He also proposed academic participation in defence offsets to create new projects that also bring in revenue.

"I think we should also use defence offsets to create such type of research projects in defence with academic participation," Parrikar said.

The minister cited example of some of the projects taking place in a few institutions like IIT-Bombay with Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the US.

Recalling his college days, Parrikar said the campus environment promotes innovation and entrepreneurship and students should make the most out of it.

"After finishing college, we started our own venture and later decided to enter politics. But, innovation is something the campus environment promotes and if you have great ideas then this programme fits in right there," he said.

Overhauling procurement policy
On the government's side, Parrikar said things are taking time to change since it's difficult to ''shake off'' decades of ''inertia''.

''Our new defence procurement policy not only aims to incentivise and promote indigenous production but also cut the red tape and remove bureaucratic hurdles, which have delayed plans in the past,'' he said. ''What this vision gives to stakeholders is an ecosystem for innovation and development… The new DPP will of course expedite business and make defence a modern sector. The modalities have all been worked out and the final clearance to the draft should be given by March 21 and by month end it will be notified,'' Parrikar said.

Speaking at the 'Make in India Week' programme in Mumbai last month, the defence minister had said the new policy would come into effect from 2 April 2016.

''The DPP will have a new category of indigenously designed, developed and manufactured (IDMM) as the most preferred category for procurements, which aims to boost domestic private and small-scale industry,'' he had said, adding, the NDA government seeks to make the defence market ''more lucrative'' for the Indian industry.

Parrikar, an IIT-Bombay alumnus, exhorted the crowd of aspiring engineers at the sprawling IIT-Roorkee campus to value ''knowledge over degree'' and think out of the box. ''Your director mentioned the three legs on which an idea or an institution stands – theory, practical and innovation. But there is the fourth leg and that is the ecosystem to allow that innovation and development and we seek to provide that kind of ecosystem,'' he said.

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