The phrase Indigenisation denotes to substituting an imported item with one that is manufactured within the country. This does not indicate that the item manufactured within the country is a replica of the imported item. It could be functionally the same but could have more modern, energy-efficient, compact, and reliable parts and sub-assemblies, that could themselves be either imported or indigenous.

To increase its technological capability in the area of homeland security, the government is considering to establishing a centre for focused research on the latest electronic equipment, which can be indigenously manufactured.

Indigenization of technology in the Indian context:

After independence in 1947, India had introduced policies and programmes for the development of indigenous capacities in Science and Technology as an integral part to develop as a modern nation-state.

A five-year planning approach was implemented for economic and industrial growth. The Indian experience of strengthening the Science and Technology capacities in the context of industrialisation as it has evolved over the various plan periods from 1947 to 2001 has been scrutinized.

Consolidation of Science and Technology capacities is regarded as a process of establishing innovation networks interconnecting science, innovation and industrial activities. Therefore, policies and programmes of the nation for both Science and for Industry and the interrelationship between the two have been scanned.

Nevertheless, an indigenously manufactured electronic equipment using imported components would still be desirable not only from the perspective of price but also the availability of low-cost repair and maintenance over many years of operation.

In the viewpoint of defence and military applications, the value of indigenisation gets multiplied manifold in terms of the strategic reliability of ready and direct access to a local manufacturer and his support base.

Furthermore, an indigenous manufacturer also has the ability to increase his product periodically using upgraded technology that could even be developed in-house.

It is well documented in studies that indigenisation of technology goes beyond just manufacturing the item based on drawings and materials supplied by a foreign manufacturer (OEM). Here, the local manufacturer is anticipated to understand the technology underlying the product or part, so as to be able to change, modify, improve or re-design the item as and when he likes. Most of the ‘technology transfer’ that happens in the Indian defence and aerospace sector, only relates to the manufacture of the item within the country and therefore concerns only the technology involved in manufacturing. The foreign manufacturers hardly provide any insight into the technology for design or modifications of the part.

It is presented that the Indian policies and programmes have developed through five phases of development. To strengthen Science and Technology capacities, the phases have been categorised as;

  • Phase I: Infrastructure building
  • Phase II: Reorientation
  • Phase III: Promotion of indigenous technologies
  • Phase IV: Moving towards economic liberalisation
  • Phase V: Science and Technology in a liberalised economy

India’s developments in the last decade are visualized as the success of service sector and increasing outsourcing industries. Indians were identified for being the global winners of IT-enabled services. It includes the airlines, healthcare, mobile phone, IT services etc.

India is among the world’s largest importers. It represents that India lacks in meeting the demand of defence forces. Our indigenous efforts have shown results but there is a lot of cost escalation and breach of time-limit one after another. This is apparent from the facts:

  1. Tejas aircraft had taken more than two decades in crore rupees. Even after the completion, armed forces were not ready to induct these aircraft but as a result of negotiation between forces, DRDO and government the aircraft is given 1st level clearance now. DRDO is not able to develop its indigenous Kaveri engine due to limited access to advanced defence technology by countries such as the USA, and JAPAN.
  2. Arjun Tank project was sanctioned in the late 1970s but was rolled out for trial in just few years back. Even after all these years, it is said to be too weighty to use in actual war operations. Now DRDO is working on using composites to decrease the weight.
  3. First indigenous nuclear submarine was developed in collaboration with BARC by DRDO. But it has inadequate fuel inventor. As a result, it cannot go for long deployment and further enhancements are required.
  4. India has a BrahMos missile in collaboration with Russia. It is one of the best in its class and air, land and water variants are under development.
  5. AGNI V has given India the status of ICBM holder country in 2013 though the project on integrated guided missile development was started in 1983. This along with Dhanush, Nirbhaya, Prithvi, and Akash missiles has improved our deterrence.
  6. India’s first indigenous Aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is under sea trials.

One of the major efforts toward indigenization has been the F-INSAS project which is intended to equip the Infantry with state-of-the-art equipment. F-INSAS means Futuristic Infantry Soldier as a System. The objective of this is to convert an infantryman into a fully-networked all-terrain, all-weather, and weapons platform with enhanced lethality, survivability, sustainability, mobility and situational awareness for the digitised battlefield of the future. Most of the equipment are being developed by DRDO.

Recently, the Indian government has proposed a new program, Make in India, to promote the manufacturing sector which provides greater employment opportunities by implementing a responsive policy environment.

Reports signify that the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, pledged to strengthen the country’s military which took a swipe at the defence department’s research and development agency. India, the largest importer of weapons in the world, has been struggling to build an indigenous defence industry. To boost the effort, Mr. Modi’s cabinet recently tried to open the defence manufacturing industry in India to more foreign investment, approving increasing to 49% the amount of foreign direct investment allowed in military equipment manufacturers.

In the Information technology sector, India got success in developing an indigenous domestic computer industry capable of producing hardware for its huge market base and software for export. Such remarkable successes have been attained at considerable cost to other sectors of the economy, to subsectors of the IT industry, and to the long-term viability of the domestic IT industry.

India has promoted IT Use: Numerous projects have been started to promote IT use in the private and public sectors and to mobilize a favourable bias towards IT to use.

It is observed that great efforts were also made to increase public awareness of IT. Computers have been introduced in locations visible to the public. These include the computerized Railway Reservation System, airline reservation systems, electricity billing, and retirement benefits accounting.

Regardless of these considerable efforts to promote IT use, there has been visible lack of incentives, such as tax breaks or accelerated depreciation rules, to encourage private sector use. Most importantly, the high barriers to imports have acted as strong disincentives to the use of IT.

In developing new technologies, India also leads in research and development and technology transfer. India’s industrialization has depended on imported technology, much of which was acquired through technology licensing and technical collaboration agreements.

Research and development by Indian companies have been basically oriented toward acclimatizing imported technologies to domestic requirements, and in some cases have helped Indian companies to develop their own technology. Interestingly, joint ventures spend more on R & D than Indian-owned enterprises, and among Indian enterprises, those who license technology do more R & D than those who do not. This advocates that technology transfer inspires instead of replaces, domestic R & D, a finding which denies prevailing development theories. India’s R & D expenditures are well in advance as compared to other developing countries in the world.

It is generally considered that India is growing at a speedy rate and has good repute among Asian countries. Currently, India has far easier access to COTS and MOTS systems, but dependency on foreign suppliers has produced helplessness like the high cost of maintenance and inventories, and the danger of deficit of spares later in the life cycle due to the closure of overseas production lines.

Additionally, it is difficult to optimise a platform’s design with a high percentage of COTS and MOTS sub-systems and systems, because “systems engineering” demands that sub-systems and systems be specifically engineered and optimised for the platform. Only then can the effectiveness of the platform be more than the sum of its parts.

Indigenization of military hardware is a mindful effort on the part of the defence establishment to develop products which suit Indian needs, circumstances and demands. It is well-established that no nation can become hopeful to attain a great power status without being practically self-reliant in defence production.

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Subhashree Rout

The Notes given here are to the topic wise mentioned in UPSC Syllabus which gives an overview knowledge for the exam.