PUNE: The Make in India program for defence manufacturing will gain traction in the next five years, executive chairman of Bharat Forge Baba Kalyani said on Thursday. 

“India still imports 75% of the defence requirement and the Make in India programme launched in 2014 intends to change that. However, it is still a work in progress and the program will gain traction in the next five years,” said Kalyani after receiving the 36th Lokmanya Tilak Rashtriya Puraskar. 

He credited the company’s foray into China as the reason for the company’s success in exports. “China is among the top automobile producers of the world and they produce close to 30 million vehicles. So, we decided to export to China and fortunately it worked for us. That is the reason why we have become world leaders in export of forging products,” he said. 

Over 57% of the company’s total FY19 revenue came from exports. Kalyani recalled the days when his father asked him to work on the shop floor for a monthly salary of Rs 500, after his return from the US. 

“The fastest way to learn is to get your hands dirty. When we rose to being the top forging company in the country, shortly after economic liberalisation of 1991, we thought why can’t we be among the top five companies of the world? In a sense, Bharat Forge is India’s first multinational,” he said. 

The Lokmanya Tilak award has been earlier conferred on three Indian prime ministers, two presidents, noted economists and scientists, among others. The award is given to prominent personalities every year on the death anniversary of Lokmanya Tilak.