The government had pledged to allocate 25 per cent of the R&D budget for private industry in defence manufacturing in the 22–23 budget. Despite this promise, 25 months later, the fund has not been made available to the industry which is key to big ticket innovations in strategic domain.

In this State of the Economy podcast hosted by businessLine’s Dalip Singh, JD Patil -- an industry veteran and member of the executive council of Management of L&T, and Advisor to the CEO & MD for L&T’s Defence & New Age Smart Technology businesses -- shares his candid views on this issue as well as expresses reservation over Ministry of Defence indulging in nomination of procurement orders.

He discusses the significance of this R&D allocation for the defence sector, emphasising its potential impact on innovation and industry growth. Additionally, Patil touches upon the recent announcement of 100 per cent FDI in space and reflects on the progress made in defence reforms over the past decade. However, he highlights the challenges faced in translating these reforms into tangible outcomes, particularly regarding the regulation of defence orders and the implementation of R&D funding for private players.

Patil also addresses concerns regarding DRDO’s functioning, emphasising the need for transparency and accountability in defence projects. Moreover, he discusses L&T’s role in defence manufacturing, including its involvement in submarine projects and efforts to enhance India’s MRO capabilities. Despite facing obstacles such as competition from foreign players and regulatory hurdles, L&T remains committed to contributing to India’s defence sector and expanding its global presence. He also adds that the company’s order book as of today is “more than 20,000 crores, and we hope to be closing the year by making it better.”

The discussion also delves into the significance of countering space capabilities, highlighting the evolving nature of threats in space and the need for situational awareness. Patil says, “The bigger threat in the case of space objects is not about whether China will knock off our satellites or whether we’ll knock off Chinese satellites.” The bigger threat today is if I can hack your satellite.”

The conversation stretched over the necessity for capabilities to address threats in this intermediate space, highlighting the importance of technologies like theatre fighting capabilities and ballistic missile defence systems, including the Russian S-400. The emphasis shifts to the significance of safeguarding satellites against cyber threats, recognising the vulnerability of space assets to hacking. He also admits to global conflicts impacting defence business here. Listen in.

Host: Dalip Singh, Producer: Nabodita Ganguly


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