Feb 4, 2016

India has to build its own capability in R&D

Posted by in categories: internet, mobile phones

I cannot wait to see India’s version of DARPA — it is probably going to be amazing.

India is unable to spend its defence modernisation budget, says a report in this newspaper. Out of a current year allocation of Rs 63,675 crore, 40% remained unspent by end-December. This is bad not just for upgrading defence capability but also for Indian research and development and for Indian manufacturing.

It is time defence reimagined its entire strategy for procurement, using a portion of its typically large outlays to stimulate R&D in universities and specialised labs and private companies, and to give Indian companies, big and small, a chance to become suppliers of parts and equipment on a scale much larger than what obtains today. The key is to create an Indian equivalent of the Americans’ Darpa.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was set up in response to the Soviet Sputnik, with the mission to initiate strategic technological surprises and not be caught off-guard by such surprises. Its size and budget are small. What it does is detailed assessment and forecasting of technology and contracting out of research in diverse areas, to universities, research contractors, companies and specialised labs, matching bits of the huge defence budget with the R&D capability available in the nation. Apart from stealth bombers and precision guidance of missiles, this effort has also yielded the internet and the geopositioning system now available on every smartphone.

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