Currently, we are living in an era that is being hailed as the ‘techade’ of India. New technologies such as machine learning, artiﬁcial intelligence, and data analytics have taken over every sector of the economy. This spells good news for innovation in defence technology in India too.
Defence Tech plays a pivotal role in the growth of new-age India. India is constantly striving to improve its internal and external security measures. Apart from government initiatives, today, the country also houses almost 200 tech start-ups that are building cutting-edge defence technology solutions. These innovations and their adoption will lead to a more resilient and secure India.
The defence industry accounts for almost 1.6 per cent of the national GDP of India and ranks third as one of the largest ecosystems in the world. With the support of the government and the implementation of new changes in policies, Indian defence tech start-ups have stunned the world by manufacturing state-of-the-art and cost-effective products. As per a recent report by consultancy ﬁrm Maier+Vidorno, the aerospace and defence industry is estimated to reach up to $70 billion by 2030.
Indian defence technology start-ups play a substantial role in building paramilitary forces and aerospace technology, bringing innovation and working toward R&D to improve technology. As our country strives to become ‘aatma nirbhar’ or self-reliant, we realise the vision of Prime Minister Modi's ‘New India’. In line with this, Maharashtra unveiled a defence and aerospace policy in the year 2018, aimed at attracting $2 billion in investment and creating 1 lakh jobs. Under the policy, the government plans to establish defence hubs in Pune, Nagpur, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Aurangabad. The policy has helped anchor units to boost the economy by providing incentives to public sector undertakings that provide working capital to MSMEs in this sector.
For the development of defence and technology, Maharashtra has been one of the preferred destinations with easy availability of skilled manpower and environmental sustainability. With the Make in Maharashtra initiative, the government established MAITRI which will have a single clearance system for state government approvals for aerospace and defence units. The state of Maharashtra has already made a mark in varied sectors such as IT/ITeS, food processing, textiles, engineering, etc. The huge presence of these industrial units is slowly paving the way and building an ecosystem that helps support the growth of aerospace and defence manufacturing units. The renowned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Pune, Maharashtra, was established to build world-class weapon systems and undertake design and development for the armed forces.
Now, nearly 56 military technology start-ups provide new-age defence technology in numerous areas. Here are some of the most indigenous tech being built by start-ups in Maharashtra as the next step of the defence tech revolution:
- Drones for aerial surveillance - It is the ﬁrst and only man-portable autonomous UAV with supply and drop capabilities.
- Vision processing system - The product provides a real-time interpretation of the battleﬁeld and combines advanced imaging and sensor technology, it also has day and night vision.
- Bio-polymer platform-based products for wound care - It offers hemostatic dressing based on bioactive microﬁber gelling technology.
- Robotic solutions - Its uniﬁed operating system helps manage connected robots across multiple sectors.
- Video surveillance system - It oﬀers a high-end electro-optic surveillance system for defence and aerospace organisations
- Combat weapon systems - These tanks are built for integration with engine, transmission, hybrid combat armour, and anti-drone defence systems for battle interfaces.
As India spearheads towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat, giving impetus to the mission is the approval of Make II projects. This includes indigenously-built infantry training weapon simulators and drone kill systems. Maharashtra is one of the most industrialised states in India and the Government of Maharashtra has been actively implementing policies and reforms to improve India’s position in the World Bank. India being the largest importer of arms, start-ups are undoubtedly playing a crucial role in helping India become self-reliant when it comes to defence technologies.
(The author is Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra)