HAL Chief’s five-point agenda for In­dian R&D


The ‘Make in In­dia’ con­cept in the de­fence sec­tor has po­ten­tial to raise de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing in the coun­try from present 30 per cent to 70 per cent in the next few years. “This could be achieved by mak­ing In­dia hub of main­te­nance, re­pair and op­er­a­tions (MRO) business, by in­vest­ing in re­search and tech­nol­ogy pro­cesses and by fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ment of skills in 70 plus trades re­lated to the aero­space in­dus­try”, said Dr R.K. Tyagi, Chair­man, HAL, at the Foun­da­tion Day Cel­e­bra­tions of Coun­cil of Sci­en­tific and In­dus­trial Re­search (CSIR).

Dr Tyagi out­lined a five-point agenda for gal­vanis­ing the re­search and de­vel­op­ment sce­nario in the coun­try. The first step to­wards a bet­ter R&D set up is to in­crease the fund­ing to the na­tional re­search lab­o­ra­to­ries such as NAL sig­nif­i­cantly as they safe­guard and pro­tect the coun­try’s IP.

The sec­ond point is to cre­ate an agency which is ded­i­cated to dis­rup­tive re­search ideas within In­dia on the lines of the De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Projects Agency (DARPA) un­der the Depart­ment of De­fense in US, Phan­tom works in Boe­ing or Skunk works in Lock­heed Martin. This agency would help us achieve the suc­cess that atomic en­ergy or space sec­tor has wit­nessed. He urged that a se­ri­ous at­tempt needs to be made to es­tab­lish a Na­tional Aero­nau­tics Com­mis­sion to syn­the­sise the learn­ings of the aero­space sec­tor.

Dr Tyagi’s third point re­flected the point made by the Prime Min­is­ter at Madi­son Square Gar­den in New York. He stressed that a lot of In­dian ori­gin sci­en­tists would be will­ing to work in niche ar­eas to prop up the coun­try’s ca­pa­bil­ity. A pol­icy frame­work for en­gage­ment of such per­sons of In­dian ori­gin needs to be for­mu­lated to fill up the crit­i­cal tech­nol­ogy gaps.

Stress­ing on higher de­gree of par­tic­i­pa­tion from in­dus­try in R&D, Dr Tyagi’s fourth point brought out that one each of the 37 labs of CSIR needs to be adopted by a spe­cific in­dus­try or the company so that the lab work gets eas­ily com­mer­cialised and is rel­e­vant to the needs of the aero­space in­dus­try. He com­mended the role of CSIR and the Na­tional Aero­space Lab­o­ra­to­ries (NAL) and urged them to open their lab­o­ra­to­ries to the in­dus­tries such as HAL and oth­ers to ex­ploit the hid­den ad­van­tages of this sci­en­tif­i­cally well-es­tab­lished in­fra­struc­ture.

In­dus­try should nur­ture th­ese labs as they have gen­er­ated a sig­nif­i­cant in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty over the last 72 years of ex­is­tence, he added. While com­pli­ment­ing NAL on do­ing pi­o­neer­ing work in aero­space, he stressed that with a bud­get of around ` 200 crore with half of it go­ing to­wards salaries and in­fra­struc­ture support, it is dif­fi­cult for any or­gan­i­sa­tion to do a path-break­ing re­search and HAL would like to part­ner with NAL in all its en­deav­ours and nur­ture it as an ex­tended arm of HAL.

Lastly, he touched upon the need of hav­ing a vi­brant skill de­vel­op­ment set up in the coun­try. He said all ef­forts to have a mean­ing­ful R&D can­not suc­ceed un­less the coun­try has a very strong skill base. In­dia will have ap­prox­i­mately 25 per cent of the world’s to­tal work­force by year 2025. On the flip side, by 2022, In­dia will re­quire 500 mil­lion skilled work­ers across all sec­tors the coun­try will see a skills gap of nearly 90 mil­lion work­ers—almost twice the cur­rent fig­ure.

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