From indigenous nuclear submarine Arihant to K-9 Vajra guns, L&T, under Chairman Naik, who joined firm as junior engineer, is now betting big on defence

New Delhi: Anil Manibhai Naik, better known as A.M. Naik, is among this year’s honourees of the country’s second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan.

Naik, who joined L&T in 1965 as a young junior engineer, is now the chairman of Larsen and Toubro (L&T), one of India’s biggest MNCs with a market cap of Rs 1.82 lakh crore, which has made stellar progress in not just the construction business but the defence sector as well.

From playing a critical part in the making of India’s indigenous nuclear submarine, Arihant, to giving the Indian Army its latest K9 Vajra-T 155 mm/52 calibre tracked self-propelled gun , the firm has come a long way under the leadership of Naik.

The L&T chairman had earlier received India’s third-highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan, in 2009, the year Arihant was launched.

The hull of the vessel was built by L&T’s Hazira shipbuilding facility, and the company continues to help the Bhabha Atomic Centre and the Ship Building Centre in the manufacture of the follow-ons of Arihant-class submarines.

L&T offers design-to-delivery solutions across the defence spectrum – from land-based weapon launch systems, air defence and artillery systems and upgrades, to naval weapon launch systems with fire control solutions, bridging systems, communication, avionics, and missile systems.

“Mr A.M. Naik… richly deserves the Padma Vibhushan,” tweeted RBI independent director S. Gurumurthy. “He is a nationalist as his biography is itself titled. Genius as a professional manager, he saved L&T from Ambanis, turned it into national security asset from just an engineering co. Congrats Mr Naik,” he added.

Gurumurthy was referring to Naik’s handling of the takeover bids mounted by the Ambanis and Birlas against L&T in the early 2000s, an episode the latter detailed at length in his biography, The Nationalist, authored by columnist Minhaz Merchant.