R&D in cutting-edge technology must for India’s Security
Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh has called upon industry leaders to come up with innovative solutions to help India become a ‘leader’ from an ‘imitator’ in futuristic technologies and stay prepared to deal with challenges emanating from the current global security scenario. He was addressing the annual session of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi on May 25, 2023. The theme of the session was ‘Future Frontiers: Competitiveness, Technology, Sustainability and Internationalisation’.
The Raksha Mantri asserted that, in today’s era, security equations are changing at an unprecedented pace and countries are focusing more than ever on technological advancements in the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum computing & genetics etc. He termed it as both – a challenge of not lagging behind in the race of technology as well as an opportunity of making a mark, with the aim to help the nation leapfrog on the path of progress.
Shri Rajnath Singh described Research & Development (R&D) in cutting-edge technology as the only way to achieve this goal, stating that it opens new dimensions crucial for the development and security of any nation in today’s times. “We need to set new goals and achieve them through innovative methods to keep ourselves prepared to deal with any challenges arising out of the ever-evolving global situation. R&D has the ability to convert things, which are viewed as resources, into resources. Technology improves the utilisation of the available resources. It acts as a force multiplier,” he said.
The Raksha Mantri stressed on the need for R&D to achieve excellence in various fields, including defence, health, education, agriculture, commerce & communication, stating that it can give the country an edge over the others. “To keep ourselves strong, we need to maintain our edge in these sectors. It will be possible only if we become technology leaders,” he said.
Shri Rajnath Singh pointed out that there are two faces to the technology paradigm across the globe – one of a leader nation which grabs an opportunity, innovates & invents a new technology and the other of an imitator which follows the leader. Stating that new technological avenues are coming to the fore without any established leader, he exhorted the industry captains to strive to make India a technology leader from an imitator. He urged them to increase their in-house R&D funding and make inroads in new & untouched sectors/products/goods & services through new technologies.
The Raksha Mantri listed out the key requirements for a nation to become a technology leader, such as a substantial capital, a robust R&D infrastructure, demography as well as the ability to adopt, understand & create a base of previous technologies. He stated that the Government has taken a number of steps, such as banking policy, regulatory policy, providing funds, labour policy, education & health policy, which provide a playfield to the youth and the industry to work together and take R&D in the country to greater heights.
Shri Rajnath Singh also shared his insights on another dimension of technology, which he called ‘Socio-Economic Technology’, commonly referred to as governance. He was of the view that the country’s population, which was once considered a liability, is now being viewed as an asset. “India is currently passing through a Demographic Dividend. Policies have been rolled out for the optimum utilisation of this population. We have strengthened the ease of doing business and ease of living in India through the socio-economic technology of good governance. Reforms have been made in the education and health sectors, which focus on making the population educated as well as healthy & skilled,” he said.
Emphasising that an educated and healthy manpower helps in increasing the productivity manifold, the Raksha Mantri exuded confidence that the Government’s efforts will convert the demography into a ‘wealth creating resource’ from mere ‘wealth consuming entity’.
Shri Rajnath Singh described the youth as the most crucial aspect of the demographic dividend, stating that the continuous growth of start-ups in the country is a result of the potential, energy and enthusiasm of the young Indian minds. “Today, there are about one lakh start-ups in the country; of which more than 100 are unicorns. Without much resources, our start-ups are competing with bigger entities with their passion. Our industries need to work with the same passion to compete with global giants,” he said.
In the context of Global Giants and Indian industries, the Raksha Mantri spoke about the ‘Technology incumbent Challenger model’, in which the challenger has more incentive to invent new technology. “The global giants may be technology incumbents due to their superior technology; but our industry, which is relatively small, is a technology challenger. It will have more incentive to invent new technology,” he said.
Incidentally, the Raksha Mantri had highlighted the same theme earlier during the day while inaugurating the two day DRDO- Academia conclave in New Delhi.
“Today we are one of the largest armed forces in the world, the bravery and valour of our military is praised all over the world. Countries across the world express their willingness to conduct joint exercises with our armed forces. In such a situation, it becomes imperative that we have a technologically advanced military to protect the interests of the country. For a country like India, it becomes very important because we are facing a double threat on our borders,” Raksha Mantri said.
Underscoring the significance of the theme of the conclave “DRDO-Academia Partnership – Opportunities & Challenges”, Shri Rajnath Singh said, it is dire need that DRDO and Academia work in partnership with each other to find solutions to the challenges being faced by us in the 21st century. “This partnership will prove helpful in making India a leading nation in defence technologies,” he said.
Raksha Mantri underlined that the path to acquire advanced technologies traverses through research and development (R&D) which plays a key role in the development of any country.
“Unless we do research, we will not be able to adopt new technologies. R&D has the ability to convert ordinary substances into valuable resources. It has been a key factor in the development of civilizations throughout history,” Shri Rajnath Singh added. He expressed confidence that as partnership between DRDO and Academia reaches new heights, the fruits of this partnership will unlock the potential of many new resources, which will benefit the entire country.
“I don’t see the partnership between DRDO and Academia from the point of view of 1+1=2, but as 1+1=11. That is, when these two entities cooperate with each other, not only both of them will get double benefit, but the entire nation will benefit greatly from this partnership,” Shri Rajnath Singh said.
Elaborating on the benefits of the DRDO – Academia partnership, Raksha Mantri stressed, through this synergy, the DRDO will get a skilled human resource base from eminent institutions like IISC, IITs, NITs and other universities from across the country as these institutions, nurture a large pool of talented and skilled youth.
“On the other hand, the academia will be benefited from the R&D fund of DRDO that it spends in developing new technologies, and will also get access to the advanced infrastructure and lab facilities of the defence research organisation. This symbiotic relationship will prove helpful in further enhancing the start-up culture in our country,” pointed out Raksha Mantri.
Shri Rajnath Singh further emphasised that such technologies developed through collaboration and collective efforts could have applications in both civil and defence sectors.
Raksha Mantri also urged the DRDO scientists and academia to deliberate on the option of deployment of the scientists of DRDO as faculty in the academic institutions for a specific period, which will give a new perspective to our Academia, whereas the intellectuals of Academia can also serve on deputation as a scientist within DRDO.