Surprisingly, about 25% of India’s Aircraft and Spacecraft Indus- try is located in Karnataka. The state accounts for a massive 67% of all aircraft and helicopters manufactured for defence purposes. Evidently, the aerospace industry in Karnataka is huge.
In 2013, Karnataka became the first Indian state to develop its own aerospace policy (Karnataka Aerospace Policy 2013-23). The efforts were fruitful, as 65% of all aerospace-related investments currently made in the country are done in Karnataka. The state aims to attract investments worth $6 billion and provide 60,000 new job opportunities in the coming five years.
Also Read: AEROMODELLING: A STEP TO SOAR HIGH
But how is Karnataka going to pursue its ambitious goals? Under the new policy, aerospace and defence parks will be set in Bengal- uru, Mysuru, Belagavi, Tumakuru, and Chamarajanagar. The plan is to promote skilling, R&D, and exports.
Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will be built in the five cities mentioned above. Private players can either hold 100% owner- ship or operate under Public Private Partnership (PPP). In PPP, the government offers up to 26% of the equity as a plot.
Recently, India’s defence exports reached a new height. The coun- try’s exports surged to Rs.13,000 crores for 2020-21. Moreover, aerospace and defence market is predicted to reach $70 bil- lion by 2030. State policies like Karnataka’s will give India the much-needed boost in defence sector.
India’s Worrying Dependence on Defence Imports
India is the leading defence importer. In 2020, India imported defence equipment worth $2.8 billion and ranked 1st globally. In- deed, it’s not a good list to top.
So what’s the way out? Privatization is the key. All of the top 5 defence contractors in the world are privately owned. If done transparently, private sector can do wonders in defence for India. Moreover, India needs to focus more on innovation. India’s low spending on R&D is alarming (only 0.66% of its GDP in 2018, world bank). China spent 2.14% of its GDP on R&D in the same year. It’s high time now that the government realizes the impor- tance of innovation for the country’s development.