In this episode of The State of the Economy Podcast, we take a glance into the Indian Navy’s strategic shift towards self-reliance and innovation in the defence sector. Our guest, Indian Navy Commodore Arun P Golaya (retd.), who sheds light on the exciting initiatives propelling the Navy forward, along with the hurdles they’re working to overcome.

Commodore Golaya cited the success of programs like IDEX (Innovation for Defence Excellence) and its sub-initiative, Sprint. Through these programs, the Navy has fostered a vibrant ecosystem of collaboration between startups, MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), and the defence establishment. The year-long Sprint Challenge yielded impressive results, with over 75 new technologies taking shape. Imagine carbon nanotube aerogel-based fabric for fire-suits that enhances fire protection on board ships, or underwater communication using blue-green lasers for a stealthier tactical advantage. These are just a few examples of the groundbreaking advancements being made.

While the Navy excels at nurturing innovation, commercialisation remains a sticking point. Commodore Golaya proposes a two-pronged approach to address this. Firstly, allowing IDEX and Sprint winners access to the Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS) would ease their cash flow woes. Secondly, awarding “Fit for Military Use” certificates to all qualifying firms, would help with exports, but is of no use unless orders are given to them.

The Navy recognises that a future-proof force hinges on a technologically adept workforce. They’re taking proactive steps to bridge the skill gap. This includes recruiting officers with a minimum B.Tech qualification, leveraging the digital-native prowess of younger generations, and revamping training syllabi. Simulators, virtual reality, and a focus on continuous learning are becoming integral aspects of Navy training.

The Indian Navy doesn’t shy away from the growing importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in modern warfare. They have established the Indian Naval Incubation Center for Artificial Intelligence (INICAI) in Bangalore to collaborate with startups and develop AI-powered solutions for maritime operations.

The takeaway? The Indian Navy is on a determined path to become a self-sufficient and technologically advanced maritime force. By fostering innovation, nurturing talent, and embracing AI, they are well-positioned to safeguard India’s maritime interests in the years to come.

Tune in to know more.

(Host: Dalip Singh; Producer: Renil S Varghese)

 About the State of the Economy podcast

India’s economy has been hailed as a bright spot amid the general gloom that seems to have enveloped the rest of the world. But several sectors continue to stutter even as others seem set to fire on all cylinders. To help you make sense of the bundle of contradictions that the country is, businessline brings you podcasts with experts ranging from finance and marketing to technology and start-ups.