By Anupama Airy
To “Win Indian Wars With Indian Solutions, ” a phrase coined by Lt Gen Saha, Deputy Chief of Army Staff (P&S) was first explained by him to DefenceAviationPost.com in an interview on June 9, last year.
The strategy which is essentially driven by a strong interactive process involving Academia – Industry- Army is fast capturing the imagination of all stakeholders and
attention of the media.
Beginning 2016, the DCOAS started the process by holding regular interactions with the industry in industrial hubs across the country. Industry at every level from top corporates to MSMEs was given an opportunity to interact with the Indian Army through a series of bilateral interactions.
As many as 17 Army-Industry bilateral interactive sessions have been held with 1754 entities in attendance (that included large, medium, small, MSMEs and start-ups).
On The Need to Involve Academia , speaking to DefenceAviationPost.com Gen Saha said, “By the time we did the third or fourth Army-Industry interaction, we realised that this may provide for immediate requirements, for the long term and to be truly indigenous we need to involve the Academia.”
In addition to 17 bilateral interactions, eight trilateral Academia-Industry-Army interactions have taken place with over 700 Professors and Scholars from IIT Bombay, Madras, Gandhinagar, Kharagpur, IISC Bangalore, PSG Coimbatore, Amrita University, Coimbatore and most recently with IIT Ropar and industry in Ludhiana on January 27.
Around the middle of 2016, Lt Gen Saha also started with the field trips of industry and academia to border locations where there was heavy deployment of Indian forces and where the real challenges existed.
For the first time perhaps in the history of the Indian Army, field visits were undertaken in June 2016 by a group of Professors, Ph D Scholars and Industrialists to forward locations in Kashmir valley followed by the Sikkim Sector in November last year. All these yielded some good solutions and ideas.
The next Field visit is now planned for the Desert and Rann of Kutch Sector in February, followed by other border areas, revealed Indian Army sources.
Equipment were laid out for hands on experience and life cycle sustenance solutions at Ahmednagar in July, Coimbatore in August, Gopalpur in October and Devlali in January this year. A comprehensive firepower display was also conducted at Devlali, Nashik.
“Keeping this aim in view through 2016 and beyond the Army has undertaken this extensive outreach program,” Gen Saha said, adding that these events provided an exclusive opportunity to the industry and academia representatives to understand the requirements and interact with the field commanders of Indian Army and seek clarifications directly from the user.
Expectations from the Academia and Industry To win India’s Wars with Indian Solutions.
With such a huge domestic market, large imports of defence equipments is not helping anyone. Therefore, to transform to indigenous from import, Gen Saha says that the collaboration between the User ie Army – Industry – Academia is an imperative.
To instutionalise the process Raksha Mantri Manohar Parrikar accorded an in-principle approval for setting up of an Army Design Bureau (ADB) in August 2016. Within days on 31 August ADB inaugurated by the former COAS Gen Dalbir Singh then COAS.
It may be noted here that Army Design Bureau (ADB) is the interface of the Indian Army that aims to provide a better understanding of the Army’s requirements to the academia, research organisations and the industry for developing high tech defence products.
ADB has also been established as a “single point contact” and a platform for an interaction between the army and academia, the defence public sector units (PSU), private players to understand the requirements of the army.
At this event in Ludhiana, Gen Saha explained why he emphasised so much on the phrase of Winning Indian Wars with Indian solutions.
“We are fighting a proxy war whose intensity, complexity and dimensions are increasing,” Gen Saha said, adding that future wars are envisaged to be hybrid. He said that while the Line of Actual Control is a different confrontation, the Line of Control is a 24×7 and 365 days eyeball to eyeball contact configuration with adversary.
“These are typically Indian battlefield conditions which require Indian solutions. Adaptations are not best solutions,” he explained.
On December 5, an Army Technology Seminar was held to discuss “Future Technological Requirements, Common Advanced Technologies and Advanced Materials”. On the occasion, RM released the First Volume of Compendium of Problem Statements for the Industry and Academia to work on.
The compendium is a blueprint of 50 problems/issues for which Indigenous solutions have been sought from the industry and academia.
The problems highlighted in the compendium by ADB ranges from appropriately designed light-weight cold protection clothing, bullet-proof jackets, robots, pressure and temperature regulated modular cabins, smart sensors /detection devices, survival kits, body wellness analysers/detectors worn by soldiers in high altitude, night vision devices, composite helmets and nano surveillance aerial vehicles.
“We are now signing MoUs with the R&D institutions…an MoU has been signed with IIT Gandhinagar and Bombay in December 2016 and January this year respectively. We are getting some high quality solutions from the Academia,” Gen Saha said.
On The Roadmap Ahead
“In the near future we expect an impetus to Make projects under DPP 2016; Research and Development under ATB and TDF; An acceleration in procurement with focus on IDDM.”
In 10 years, Gen Saha added that he hopes to see a transformation from:
⁃ Equipping to developing capability.
⁃ Products to solutions
⁃ Strong research capabilities
⁃ Import to export.
“While improving the legacy, we would recommend developing Smart Defence Industrial Complex built around Anchor Industries and Anchor Technological Institutes.”
Explaining this Gen Saha said, the Anchor Technological Institute should emphasise on incubation, research and skill; the anchor Industry should focus on integration and creating subsidiaries with emphasis on quality and the User should be collaborating through think tanks, directly, trial parks, knowledge sharing.
In a Nut-Shell : “Having suggested a highly possible road map, we are confident that with your collaboration, ‘We can Win India’s Wars with Indian Solutions,” he added.
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