National Defence College recently celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with a seminar exploring the theme ‘India’s National Security: The Decade Ahead’. Speaking on the subject ‘Technology: A Key Variable’, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar emphasised the need for inhouse production and enlisted reasons for India to be optimistic. “Let me start by saying that today India is one of the largest design and development centres of the world. Today we have over a thousand global companies, which have one of their biggest design and development centres in India. The design and development export from these global companies alone exceeds 15 billion dollars per year and is growing. India has displaced other major design and development centres of the world from the global map in this regard.”

Space Technology

Ajay Kumar added that India also had an edge in space. “We have also seen that in sectors like space, we have been able to make laudable progress. Today we have become one of the few countries who have been able to send satellites like to Mars; we are planning to send a man to space; and we have capabilities where we are in a position to help other countries to launch their satellites. So, this inherently provides us the capability for R&D that exists in the country in various allied sectors." He added that these capabilities were now being harnessed in the defence and aerospace sector.” 

Start-Up Culture

The second big development which Ajay Kumar pointed out as a reason for encouragement is the very vibrant start-up ecosystem in the country. “India has the world’s third-largest start-up ecosystem, with nearly 50,000 start-ups which are active in this country." Giving figures, the Defence Secretary said that roughly USD 4 billion are pumped into the start-up ecosystem every quarter, which amounts to roughly about 16 billion dollars a year. With this thrust, India now accounts for 31 unicorns, and the number could more than triple shortly. A lot of these start-ups, interestingly, are in the technology space. In future, there are great possibilities of using this start-up ecosystem to meet our defence requirements, he said.

Self-Reliance In Technology

“The third great strength that we need to leverage in this journey towards using greater self-reliance in technology is on the software side. I don’t have to say India is today globally recognized as a leader of software and software services. We are also aware that recently Tata Consultancy (TCS) became the world’s number one software company leaving behind the likes of Accenture, IBM and many others who were the world leaders in the past. We, today, as a country are producing over 80-90 thousand engineers and other graduates.” The Defence Secretary felt that this talent can also be channelized to meet our industry requirements.

Academic System

Finally, Ajay Kumar sounded a buoyant note on our academic system. “And the last point I would like to mention with respect to our strengths is the leveraging of our academic system. I have already talked about the large number of graduates that we have produced every year. The new education policy that has come has had some transformational reforms in our higher education system. For the first time we are looking to open our academic system to the international world, and Indian universities too are opening campuses outside. Moreover, making the Indian university ecosystem multidisciplinary would mean knowledge from other disciplines blows into each other. That, and the creation of National Research Foundation will provide greater thrust on the R&D ecosystem which augurs very well for India.