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|February 18, 1999||
Major role seen for private sector in strengthening of defence
Mrityunjay Bose in Bombay
Defence-industry cooperation will help the armed forces to reduce dependence on imports, emerge as a regional power in the next millennium and make the private sector a player in indigenisation, speakers said at a seminar organised by the Indian Merchants' Chamber in Bombay today.
Top defence officials said interaction between the two should be frequent to understand each other's attitudes. They should participate together in design, development and maintenance of armaments, stores and other equipment, they said.
They said the armed forces were willing to involve the private sector in various defence projects, but said there would not be any compromise on quality.
IMC President Y P Trivedi said defence and civil industry have remained isolated in India unlike in the US where the private sector was accountable for over 80 per cent needs of Pentagon.
In the new geo-political environment and post-Pokhran era, weapons and equipment as well as maintenance spares supplied by militarily-advanced countries are threatened and this offers new opportunities to the private sector, he said. There is a huge untapped potential and the private sector needs to grab the opportunity without compromising on quality.
Defence officials pointed out that the goals of the forces -- modernisation and self-reliance -- could only be achieved with the help of the Indian private sector.
Last year Defence Minister George Fernandes also held a meeting with the Confederation of Indian Industry and six taskforces covering a gamut of sectors were created. Even the DRDO -- the apex research and development agency of the services -- opened up eight research laboratories of the defence ministry to the private sector, they pointed out.
Apart from manufacturing lethal weapons, the private sector can contribute to defence production and the information technology sector.
Samples rooms have been set up in Calcutta, Bombay, New Delhi and Madras for vendors to judge the requirement and need of the armed forces.
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