By Vijay Grover
Dr Murugesh Nirani, Minister for Industries for Karnataka, recently spoke to Vijay Grover of Indian Aerospace and Defence, highlighting the advantages of opportunities Karnataka offers in terms of policy and ease of business.
Q. How does Karnataka Aerospace and Defence Policy boost indigenous production in the defence sector to help the country become Atma Nirbhar?
Ans: Karnataka offers immense opportunities in aerospace, defence and space sectors and is an ideal destination for investments. Karnataka has positioned itself as a prime location for India’s aerospace and defence industry. The establishment of institutions and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Indian Institue of Science (IISc) have created a robust ecosystem over the years. Leading global players have set up shops in the state. Karnataka was the first state to announce the Aerospace and Defence Policy. Our proactive policies and business-friendly measures have resulted in attracting sizeable investments.
25% of India’s aircraft and spacecraft industry is based in Karnataka. More than 67% of all aircraft and helicopter manufacturing for defence services is done in Karnataka, this contributing 65% of the country’s aerospace-related exports. We are home to more than 2000 micro and small enterprises along with 70% of India’s supplier base, which executes subcontracting work for the Defence PSUs. The aerospace policy is a big boost to indigenous production in the defence sector. There is a lot of emphasis on the Make in India and Skill India schemes launched by Prime Minister Modi, and Karnataka follows the same vision to make India Atma Nirbhar.
Q. Karnataka is a preferred hub for investors across all sectors. How do you forecast investment growth in the aerospace and defence sector? What initiatives has the government taken to boost investments and keep the interest level high?
Ans: Karnataka has positioned itself as a prime location for India’s aerospace and defence industry. Karnataka was the first state to announce the Aerospace and Defence Policy, and the proactive policies and business-friendly measures resulted in the state attracting huge investments. The State Government will continue to develop Bengaluru, Belagavi, Mysuru, Tumakuru and Chamarajanagar as aerospace and defence manufacturing hubs with an aim to attract $6 billion in investments and add about 60,000 jobs over the next five years. The government has announced generous offerings for investments, which sets Karnataka apart from the others. Besides the robust ecosystems created by shops set up by industry leaders have sparked a very high level of interest from supporting industry, the focus remains on research and development (R&D) and manufacturing.
Q. Private participation, especially start-ups and MSMEs, play a crucial role in defence and aerospace manufacturing. How does Karnataka support the sector? What are the policy incentives offered?
Ans: The state’s New Aerospace Policy 2022-27 will give a big boost to growth and investments in the sector. Karnataka plans to offer enhanced incentives to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to provide a level playing field and make them competitive as part of the new Aerospace and Defence Policy. The state’s new Aerospace and Defence Policy is expected to bring in ₹40-50 thousand crores of investment and lead to massive employment generation. The policy will also help develop indigenous and advanced technologies in manufacturing for space-related applications, develop an excellent skilled workforce, and support MSMEs in the supply chain with increased technological access to globally competitive technologies.
Q. What are the main objectives you envisage for the growth of the aerospace and defence industry in the state? Could you share your vision?
Ans: The government aims to attract investments of ₹45,000 crores in the aerospace and defence sector during the policy period of five years. It also intends to create additional employment opportunities (direct and indirect) for 60,000 people and develop Karnataka as the aerospace and defence manufacturing hub, including maintenance, repair, and operations for both the Indian market and exports. Further, we want to strengthen the R&D infrastructure for achieving innovative and cutting-edge technologies and create an enhanced facilitation mechanism for ease of doing business through an industry-friendly policy framework.
Q. Karnataka aims high in drone technology and manufacturing. Could you elaborate?
Ans: We have recognised the changing dynamics in the aerospace, and defence sector, including drones and allied technology in our aerospace and defence policy, providing impetus to the companies in space. We are also encouraging the use of drones in agriculture and urban development. In fact, the Government of Karnataka (GoK) is one of the entities that has been granted exemption from the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021 to undertake activities using drones from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). We also launched a pilot project in the Haveri district over a 200 square kilometre area to assess the crop health, yield estimation and crop types suitable. Bengaluru is already a hub for drone technology start-ups like AUS, HUVIAir, General Aeronautics etc., with many more coming up due to the existing ecosystem in the state.
Q. Karnataka has become the regular host of the premier expo Aero India. How do you look at the latest edition of the expo as a platform to boost the state’s aerospace and defence sector? What are the highlights of the participation of the government at the expo?
Ans: The latest edition of Aero India is a great platform to bring together the industry from across the world. It is a great space to display the prowess of Karnataka in the sector. We have both, the established and start-ups in the sector participating in the exhibits and events. This would also provide an excellent opportunity to interact with the industry and understand its requirements. We are also looking to facilitate investments with players from across the world.
Vijay Grover is the Editor of Indian Aerospace & Defence