Thrust on domestic manufacturing of arms, ammunitions & security products to make India Atmanirbhar says Union Minister G Kishan Reddy

New Delhi: Mr G Kishan Reddy, MoS, Home Affairs, Govt of India today said that the government will focus on promoting domestic manufacturing of arms, ammunitions and other security products under Make in India to promote Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

Addressing FICCI webinar on ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat: Opportunities for Homeland Security Industry’, Mr Reddy said, “Atmanirbharta is not just a dream, but a well thought of roadmap for the future ready India. We will have to strengthen our presence in making a strong public private partnership culture.”

Mr Reddy said that for last many years we were dependent on worldwide OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) for procuring arms and ammunitions. “Now the government of India has decided to soon initiate procurement from local industries to reduce import dependence.

Urging the private industries to come forward, Mr Reddy said that government is open to solve the issues of the industry. “There is a need for the private sector to be price competitive and focus on quality in production. It should not only cater to the domestic needs, but also be able to export products, only then it will achieve the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan,” he said.

Mr Reddy highlighted that government is also in the process of upgrading various testing centres and labs in the country. He added that the government will also use GeM portal to promote domestic products.

Dr Sangita Reddy, President, FICCI said, that the government has launched Made in India concept to place India as a manufacturing hub, with significant focus on Research and Development. FICCI looks forward to work actively with the Ministry of Home Affairs and other Govt. departments to contribute towards the vision of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India to make India self-reliant.

“We need to find multiple ways to help India recover from the severe economic crisis which is being faced because of the pandemic,” added Dr Reddy.

Mr Rahul Chaudhry, Chair, FICCI Homeland Security Committee, said that we can only find opportunities from COVID-19 if we are prepared to move forward and change our way of working. “We are encouraged to see that the government has initiated reforms and opened up the economy along with the opening of the MHA procurement policy for industry. MHA must play the role of Market Maker and the same should be reflected in terms of policy framework at the ministry level.”

Mr Mukesh Sharma, Director, R K & Sons; Mr Siddharth Jain, Director, Narendra Explosives Ltd and Mr Akshya Singhal, Partner, EY also shared the industry perspective.

FICCI-EY Report ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan: Opportunity for Homeland Security Industry’ was also released.

Key highlights of the report:

Going forward, following are the key suggestive measures and recommendations for an Atmanirbhar security industry:

1. Developing skilled manpower: The following are some of the key measures that can be adapted to retain or develop new skilled manpower:

a) Businesses should partner or initiate joint ventures with global organizations for research and development centers in the country. Businesses should consider training their employees through online courses and by involving lobal leaders to provide certifications to enable growth.

b) Increased collaborations between all the key stakeholders including academic institutions, training organizations, policymakers and the industry can help in enhancing the skills requirements of the market.

2. Reducing brain drains: Brain drain causes a substantial migration of individuals due to existence of favourable professional opportunities in other countries or from a desire to seek a higher standard of living.

3. Coordinated interface with the industry: A coordinated interface with industry shall ensure that there is no gap between the government and the industries with regards to understanding the aggregated procurement requirements, technology adoption and its planning, or getting a hand holding support from the government in case of MSMEs. The government can also enhance their outreach programs so as to strengthen its relationship with the industries and can consider this a platform to address the concerns or issues of the industry stakeholders.

4. Standardization of product requirements: There is a need to ensure the aggregation of demand over the medium – to long-term for attracting investment in the major production areas enabling the MSMEs to do a long-term planning. There is also a need to encourage existing industrial units in the small-scale sector to modernize their production facilities so that they can adopt improved and updated technology to strengthen their manufacturing facilities.

5. Setting up innovation cells to promote the adoption of smart technology innovations and R&D: India needs more R&D, innovation and the creation of cutting-edge technologies to become self-reliant. Continuous innovation is the key to success for any nation; therefore, technological developments must be promoted. To encourage innovation, the Make in India initiative is providing opportunities to industries, especially the MSMEs and start-ups. Similarly, the Start-up India initiative is also providing a platform to new entrepreneurs to achieve success by transforming their ideas into a niche technology and sharing their relevant application. Such innovation cells shall provide a platform to effectively forge industry, R&D labs, academia linkages, and collaborations.

6. Long-term sustenance of indigenous R&D and production: While the focus remains on developing the indigenous products and solutions, it is also important to safeguard the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of the developed work products. Missions such as Raksha Gyan Shakti was launched by the defence minister in 2018 with an objective to foster innovations as well as inventions in the IPR regime15. India is also in the middle of revising its intellectual property protection rights which make it complicated for businesses. It is recommended to take an opinion from intellectual property rights experts from the industry to avoid issues at a later stage. Carrying out a periodic risk assessment and due diligence is likely to help reduce the risk. Additionally, it is also important to ensure that the security industry has the visibility to the long-term aggregated demands to plan for production, research and development aligned with the evolving technologies. This will also help in ensuring the work products are meeting all the standards and quality norms at a global level.

7. Availability of power: the 24×7 availability of power is required for any facility setup. There is a challenge of power availability for 24 hours a day, which reduces productivity and efficiency. This increases fixed costs for the facility.

8. Logistic challenges: India is yet to develop a strong road network, waterways are still unexplored and air transport is very expensive. In the union budget 2020-21, the GoI has given a massive push to the infrastructure sector by allocating INR1,69,637 crores (US$24.27 billion) for transport infrastructure. The government is also in the middle of launching a national logistics policy which aims at reducing the logistics cost and improving the time between destinations.

9. Other key measures:

– Increase in frequency of programs imparting awareness and information about opportunities to MSMEs under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

– Facilitation to MSMEs in terms of ease of regulations, access to raw materials at reasonable costs, availability of quality infrastructure and adoption of research and development to innovate products may be encouraged.

– There should be a focus on promotion of ease of doing business in terms of flexibility to hire contract labor, getting access to indirect tax benefits, simplification of land acquisition procedures, enhancing intellectual property rights and reduction in logistics costs, among others.

– Identifying key components and systems for the security industry and encouraging global investors to set up a manufacturing base in India by providing them with more incentives.

– Leveraging government purchases particularly for technology transfer, where applicable.

– Collaborating with engineering/technical colleges and industrial training institutes to ensure that security-relevant technologies and skills are part of their curriculum.

– Providing companies and R&D labs as well as academia to the latest global technologies.

– Enhancing priority sectors’ funding and encouraging long-term funding mechanisms to them.

– Preparing a roadmap for making India a global hub of emerging technologies such as in the application of Artificial Intelligence in the security industry.