Innovate to make India a ‘leader’ from an ‘imitator’ in futuristic technologies in defence and other sectors, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told industry brass on Thursday at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) annual session.

Throughout his address, themed ‘Future Frontiers: Competitiveness, Technology, Sustainability and Internationalisation’, the Defence Minister focussed on the importance of research and development (R&D) for generational leap solutions in sectors like defence, health, education, agriculture, commerce, and communication through emerging technologies.

He urged the industry to invest in the areas of R&D and increase the capacity of in-house research. The Minister invited the industry to give suggestions for any changes they feel should be brought into defence-related policies, and he promised to look into them for ease of doing business and promoting the sector.

Singh pointed out that there are two faces to the technology paradigm across the globe – one of a leader nation, which grabs an opportunity, innovates, and invents a new technology and, the other of an imitator, which follows the leader, as per MoD. Stating that new technological avenues are coming to the fore without any established leader, he exhorted the industry captains to strive to make India a technology leader from an imitator, Ministry stated.

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“We need to set new goals and achieve them through innovative methods to keep ourselves prepared to deal with any challenges arising out of the ever-evolving global situation,” said the Minister. “R&D has the ability to convert things, which are viewed as resources, into resources. Technology improves the utilisation of the available resources. It acts as a force multiplier,” he added at the gathering that also had officials from the MoD.

In today’s era, security equations, as per the Minister, are changing at an unprecedented pace and countries are focusing more than ever on technological advancements in the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and genetics. “To keep ourselves strong, we need to maintain our edge in these sectors. It will be possible only if we become technology leaders,” he said.

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With new technologies replacing the old regime, Singh exhorted the CII to invest in human resources for capacity building. He shared his insights into another dimension of technology, which he labelled ‘Socio-Economic Technology’ that, as per him, is commonly referred to as governance. The country’s population, once considered a liability, is now being viewed as an asset, he insisted. “India is currently passing through a Demographic Dividend. Policies have been rolled out for the optimum utilisation of this population,” he said.

The Minister exuded confidence that the government’s efforts will convert the demography into a ‘wealth creating resource’ from mere ‘wealth consuming entity’.