Trusted Partner To Make In India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi first mooted the idea of Make in India exactly a year ago on the Independence Day function, 2014. It truly brought focus on what India was trying to do - make stuff in India which was to be consumed by Indians themselves and anything left over could be exported too. It appealed to the business minds of everyone as India has a competitive advantage in terms of human resources and a captive advantage in high-end technology.

The Make in India movement can do a lot of good for both India and Indians in terms of job opportunities which will be available in India. India can also, for perhaps the first time ever, leverage her large, ever-increasing population for a piece of the global manufacturing pie. We believe that there should be a Knowledge Transfer Mechanism built into the core of all production. In an interconnected world, the goal should be to see how you can learn from (and give learning to) all the producers who are waiting for the chance to make in India. In that way, Make in India will transform itself into a mission which will be spoken about in the years to come.

Saab and Sweden have a long history of sharing knowledge with their partners and it is with this spirit of sharing that we enter any process in the globalized world. The real progress is where both the parties in a partnership can say that they have learnt something beneficial from the partnership. In pursuance to the true spirit of symbiosis and synthesis, we already have joint agreements with many in the Indian manufacturing space. With Aequs, we have commissioned a joint venture, Aerostructures Assemblies India, which is manufacturing assemblies for commercial and defence aircraft. We have also set up the Saab India Technology Center, which is involved in R&D in collaboration with Tech Mahindra. All aero plane manufacturers, civil or defence, usually consist of the Original Equipment Manufacturers such as Airbus or Saab surrounded by hundreds of small or medium-sized supplier of parts. All the clusters form this shape, and we see the south of India transforming itself into such a cluster. Bangalore and Hyderabad are the likely centers of this aeronautics cluster.

Sweden has a very strict legislation, which means that all of Saab’s business opportunities are scrutinized by Swedish authorities with insight and transparency for our elected politicians in Parliament. It is a judicious and coherent system which is largely unparalleled in the world. This is what PM Narendra Modi is aspiring to do with his Make in India vision- that it should be transparent, every citizen of India should feel pride in it, and it should do good for India. India has a 14% share in the global defence trade and is likely to spend around $130 billion on defence in the coming 7-8 years. That makes it one of the largest defence markets in the world and the opportunity it presents should be taken advantage of. This will increase India’s self-reliance in defence production and will also have a spillover effect on the rest of the economy. For this to happen, PM Narendra Modi must ensure that expectations and objectives of his government are aligned so as to make the ‘Make in India’ initiative a success story.

-Jan Widerström, Country Head and Chairman, Saab India Technologies Pvt Ltd

Appeared in the Business Standard-Securing India.