"The industry and academia have to jointly build an ecosystem to invent, innovate and industrialise for the government's 'Make in India' programme, as our human resources have not been skillfully tapped or trained," former scientific advisor to defence minister, V.K. Aatre, said at the 103rd Indian Science Congress in Mysuru.
He said the ambitious programme would remain a slogan without a ecosystem to conceptualise, design and hold intellectual property rights (IPR) in the country.
"I do not want to end up making a slogan like Make in India for only manufacturing. I would rather expand to design, innovate and acquire IPR to develop skills and indigenise technology for self-reliance," Aatre told delegates at a panel discussion on 'Skills set development in engineering, manufacturing for Make in India initiatives'.
Lauding success of the services sector, led by software industry, he said a large country like India needed a similar feat in hardcore engineering industry to sustain development and build an ecosystem for Make in India.
"Even if a software engineer does not have source code, there is no much he can do or achieve. Hence self-reliance in design and development is critical for building an ecosystem to make in India for domestic and global markets," Aatre noted.
The former director-general of the Defence Research and Development Organisation is heading a task force to recommend how to utilise industry expertise to productise design in defence technologies.
"We have brilliant system designers but not many who can develop technology to succeed in Make in India. We don't need (Albert) Einsteins and all IIT graduates.
"We can't have only generals. We must have soldiers too, with skill sets, which belong to them," Aatre observed.
Noting that a country could become a world power only by being an economic power than a military power, he said India needed to become a knowledge power, which comes only from science and technology.
"Science and technology are engines that drive a country's development and generate wealth by converting into a profitably marketable product or service," he said.
"To be a part of this globalised economy, we have train thousands of youngsters and take advantage of the demographic dividend to generate wealth-producing technologies," Aatre added.
Cautioning stakeholders that no foreign institution or firm would transfer technology per se without riders like having IPRs, Radel Advanced Technology Ltd managing director G. Raj Narayan said that self-reliance would be possible only through self-design and self-indigenisation.
"We need to build design skills to develop our own technology and prototypes for testing, validation and making in India for domestic and export markets," said Narayan, a former engineer in the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
As skills were lacking across disciplines, Alpha Design Technologies Ltd chairman and managing director H. S. Shankar said skill-based courses have to be included in the curriculum of engineering courses at IITs, NITs and other engineering colleges.
"State-run enterprises, R&D institutions and private industry should allow graduating students to intern with them to imbibe and hone skills required across the board so that they could be absorbed readily by the manufacturing sector," said Shankar, a former director at the Bharat Electronics Ltd.