Pitching Pipavav Shipyard as a one-stop shop for all requirements of the Indian Navy, from frigates to aircraft carrier and submarines, industrialist Anil Ambani on Thursday said he will invest an “additional Rs 5,000 crore” over the next few years in the project.
The Reliance Group Chairman emphasised on self-reliance in the defence sector for flexibility to pursue country’s foreign policy objectives and called for more transparent and predictable systems and procedures.
“Transparent, fair procedures and processes create a favourable climate, encourage competitiveness and eventually deliver the best overall value for the country,” he said.
Ambani added that specific measures towards ease of doing business will encourage industry participation to boost confidence of the private sector in the new ‘Make in India’ initiative.
“This is necessary as the Ministry of Defence is the sole domestic customer,” he said.
Addressing a gathering of top defence officials and industry leaders, he said Reliance Group’s “acquisition of Pipavav Defence Company in Gujarat with assets worth more than Rs 10,000 crore” is our contribution towards self-reliance.
“We will invest an additional Rs 5,000 crore over the next few years as part of our commitment towards indigenisation efforts,” Ambani said at the seminar on indigenisation organised by the Navy and CII.
On Make in India, Ambani said it redefines the defence ecosystem in India with Navy in the lead.
“For a country with one of the longest coastlines in the region and vast expanse of territories over the seas, self-reliance in naval capabilities is an ever-challenging imperative.
“Given the current geo-political environment, we have no option, but to be in the lead with a potent ‘Blue Water Presence’,” he said.
Ambani termed the Indian private sector as “mature”, saying it understands strategic concerns and is familiar with established protocols.
He felt that greater trust in our indigenous production facilities will go a big way in our quest for self-reliance and sustaining long-term strategic goals.
Underlining the need for innovation, Ambani said his group has a dedicated facility in Noida that aims solely to develop ‘Combat Management Systems’ for future naval vessels.
“We are working with market leaders like SAAB to offer the best solutions for our Navy,” he said.
He pitched for pooling of resources between the private and public sector, besides DRDO.
“The future belongs to Public Private Partnerships (PPP). We are enthusiastic about working together, specifically with the Navy, public sector shipyards and DRDO to develop innovative solutions. The key is a combined national effort to achieve our goal,” he said.
Recalling his father’s words that ‘Ideas are no one’s monopoly’, Ambani urged the Defence Ministry to consider an advisory committee with CEOs from public and private sectors to meet at regular intervals.
He stressed that there is a need to institutionalise private sector participation not only for indigenisation but the entire spectrum of defence production through groups comprising private sector companies and PSUs to pool resources.
“Today, at MoD, we have Joint Secretaries responsible for different PSUs. I believe there is a case for a Joint Secretary exclusively to engage at the business level with the private sector,” he pointed out.
Ambani hoped that the new revised Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) will have self-reliance as its key objective.
“A simple and much shorter DPP which can be easily understood and executed by all stakeholders will greatly help in ease of doing business with MoD,” he said.
He underscored the fact that Pipavav has the largest dry dock in the country, which is the second largest in the world.
With more than 30 lakh square feet of covered area for fabrication and integration alone, this is perhaps the largest single location defence manufacturing facility in India, he said.
“We are committed to making it a Global Centre of Excellence in ship building. This facility will be capable of delivering all requirements of the Indian Navy from frigates to aircraft carrier to submarines,” he said.
Pointing out that indigenisation brings along with it transfer of technology and industrialisation, Ambani said these provide skill development, employment and also contribute to intellectual capital.
Stressing that the Reliance Group will equip country’s armed forces with the best technology, weapons and equipment, all Made in India, he said it’s heartening to see a paradigm shift in country’s approach to achieving this.