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Technology transfer by Israeli cos can be a huge plus for India: Bharat Malkani

Interview with co-chairman, FICCI committee on aerospace and defence

Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai 

India has become the largest customer of Israeli defence exports over the past two years, with annual deals worth $1-billion. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to Israel is expected to give a further push to the defence ties. In an interview with Sanjay Jog, Bharat Malkani, co-chairman of FICCI committee on aerospace and defence, explains the road ahead.

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel, what will be the areas of collaboration between the private defence industry in India and Israel defence majors?

There are no direct numbers available but the defence co-operation trade
between the two countries could be in billions of dollars. India has a number of programmes ongoing with Israel, especially in aerospace and land systems.

Israel is India’s second-largest supplier of defence equipment, after Russia. In what areas could Israel help India supplying modern equipment at a competitive price?

The US is perhaps the single largest supplier of military hardware to India. Having said that, Israel has many technologies that India needs and the same are available for transfer. Cost competitiveness is secondary in technology transfer as the cost of developing the same would be many times the amount for the Indian industry without a guarantee of success.

Israeli companies have in the past showed willingness to transfer technology. It is a huge advantage for Indian companies.

How can Israel extend military cooperation with Israel in areas of electronics, missile technology and intelligence?

Israel has developed a dominant position in these areas over the past decade. Israeli companies need to further cooperate with the Indian private industry and bring products to the Indian MoD (ministry of defence) under the ‘Make in India’ vision.

How can India overcome challenges to further increase cooperation with Israel?

From an industry viewpoint, the limitations do not exist. The Indian defence industry is in a nascent stage. The potential is huge. It has been dominated historically by the DPSU (defence public sector utilities), which has done an admirable job in the past. However, with the passage of time, it’s ability to deliver a broad spectrum of products has been challenged.

Israeli companies also need to understand the changing dynamics of the Indian economy. The ability to invest and move on with agility lies with the MSME (ministry of micro, small & medium enterprises).

How can Israel become a partner in the ‘Make in India’ initiative in the defence sector?

By investing their knowledge and money in the Indian industry. Foreign direct investment of up to 49 per cent is now permissible. Once money is invested, it will bring in the much-needed jobs in the sector. India can be an excellent high-technology and low-cost producer for Israeli exports to other countries as well.

First Published: Fri, June 05 2015. 00:19 IST