The department of defence production has set up an in-house IT division to prepare a roadmap on the technology platform

by Surabhi Agarwal

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has begun a project to build IT systems that would help streamline operations and take faster decisions as it looks to increase domestic production of arms and equipment for the armed forces. 

So far, officials say, lack of a single-technology platform is among the reasons that has affected faster decision making in local procurement and has led India to depend hugely on imports. The technology platform is also being designed for planners in the military to get a single view of expertise of domestic manufacturers in arms and equipment, helping them shortlist vendors. The vendors have the provision to file certifications, products and licences to the defence ministry. 

“Everything is highly licensed in the defence sector. There are many types of certifications, registrations, etc and they are all highly controlled, but you can make these interfaces smoother by making them IT enabled and creating more transparency, ensuring less corruption and speedier decision making,” Ajay Kumar, Secretary Defence Production, told ET. 

The department of defence production has set up an in-house IT division to prepare a roadmap on the technology platform. Vendors will have access to projects such as procurement details of equipment on the platform, besides getting clarity on licences and certifications before they bid for contracts. 

“We are creating capacity within the department to ensure that wherever there is interface with the industry we will get more online oriented,” Kumar said.

While presenting the Union Budget 2018, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that a number of initiatives have been taken to develop and nurture intrinsic defence production capability to make the nation self-reliant for meeting its defence needs. “The Government will also bring out an industry-friendly Defence Production Policy 2018 to promote domestic production by public sector, private sector and MSMEs,” he said.

“Overall, our imports are around 70-75% in terms of value. To change it, we need industry participation and industry needs certainty, transparency, and timeliness… We can plan, we can make life easier for the industry. The IT interfaces can significantly introduce ease of doing business in the defence sector,” said Kumar. 

Rahul Chaudhry, chairman of Defence Innovators and Industry Association said, the department of defence and within that the department of defence production has the mandate of facilitating indigenous defence manufacturing and there is a need to have better transparency. 

“The IT interface must address their responsibility of creating a market for Indian defence industry especially since only Rs. 1.17 crore has been received as foreign direct investment in the defence production sector since 2014,” he said. 

Chaudhry, however, cautioned by saying that the government has to be careful on what it puts online since defence is a strategic sector and we may run the risk of giving away capabilities to rivals.