New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will have to contribute in the defence and space sectors as part of the Modi government’s Make in India programme, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has told these institutions.
ThePrint has learnt that HRD Minister Ramesh Nishank Pokhriyal discussed the new brief with the directors of all the IITs in a meeting on 14 June.
According to the minutes of the meeting accessed by ThePrint, the ministry wants a core team with members from IITs, the defence and space sectors to be constituted to leverage the expertise of these IITs and Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs).
The idea is “to promote indigenous defence and space capabilities as a part of the Make in India programme”.
“IITs and IIITs are government-funded institutions, hence it is expected that they play an active role in nation building,” said a senior ministry official. “In his first meeting with the IITs, the HRD minister gave a brief to these institutions to work for defence and space sectors directly. A plan will be finalised by all the institutions on how they want to go about executing the idea.”
As part of its Make in India programme in Defence, the Modi government has been trying to manufacture high-technology equipment from fighter planes to naval ships, for a long time now, but the idea has not really taken off. Till date, more than half of the defence equipment is imported, industry experts say.
With the latest intervention of getting IITs and defence experts to work together, the government wants to make the plan of getting indigenous technology work.
IITs to now work directly with defence personnel
The IITs already work in the defence sector, especially with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that is the research wing of the Ministry of Defence. As part of the new brief, however, they will now work directly with defence personnel to understand their demands, requirements and then work on it.
“We already have a collaboration with DRDO and we have been working on a lot of defence research projects along with them, but that is just the research part of the defence,” said IIT Delhi Director V Ramagopal Rao. “If we are required to work directly with the army, navy and air force, the kind of role that we play will be different. We will have to understand their requirements and work accordingly to provide solutions for them.”
IITs have also been working with ISRO but here again, their role has been limited to research. But they will now be required to take up a more active role in both defence and space sectors by getting into the manufacturing side as well as being part of the Make in India programme.