An IDC Report 


New Delhi, 03 February 2003

For the first time since Independence, India brought the leading lights of its diaspora scattered all over the world on to a common platform to discuss mutual aspirations and how they could help the country of their origin. On the last day of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Meet (NRI Meet) at Pragati Maidan, the organizers FICCI had very appropriately arranged for a group of progressive NRIs who had experience of Defence, Security and Defence Production in USA to share their views on how India could somehow improve and partly privatise the large Public sector enterprises without losing control. The theme also turned to how they could help lobby for India in the USA.

Each NRI explained that to get things done in USA the mind set of the people in power had to be oriented. They also explained that the bureaucracy of USA is formidable and decisions were taken by a three tier system and the Congress and so Indians have to be aware of the nuances. Foggy Bottom (State Department); Pentagon (the Military) and the White House (President’s office) were all involved in defence and security related decisions. The working of the private defence industry in USA was also explained, as also the process of technology transfer which was controlled by the Department of Defence (DoD) that funds programmes to the Defence industry giants. They suggested a similar model for India and showed willingness to help.

From the Indian side each speaker explained in brief what was being achieved in the area of defence. The list of speakers and their views are tabled below briefly.

The Chairman maintained discipline on speakers and stuck to time, not allowing any waffle.

The audience had defence journalists, members of the Services, MOD, Intelligence, Government, arms dealers, members of PSUs, retired officers, NRIs and all those who supply defence equipment to PSUs and the Armed Forces. The slow decision making on both sides, India’s outdated Officials Secret Act, which precludes civilian participation and such other issues were highlighted, as impediments.


President & CEO

Universal Technical Systems, Inc.

Co Chairman of the session Mr Marathe is President and CEO of Universal Technical Systems Inc., an engineering and scientific software products and customs software development company based in Rockford, Illinois. He is also one of the founders of an Indian company called Pune Software Park Private Ltd, which provides a state-of-the-art infrastructure of software to exporting companies from its location near Pune. He Chaired the session with strict time and humorous decorum and moderated the discussions. His view was that India must gain the trust of USA and give it a road map for what the Indian Military Industrial Complex expects from USA and lay down priorities. Only then would there be cohesive response and private participation was his mantra.


Director, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

Mr Santhanam (63), is Director, IDSA. He superannuated from the Defence R&D Organisation as Chief Adviser (Technology). He was the India member in the Inter-Governmental Committee of Experts set up by the UN Secretary General (1978–80) to report on the feasibility of setting up a satellite reconnaissance system for verification of compliance with international treaties. He is also a member of NSAB. As the head of IDSA he touched on the India–US relations with which he had vast experience and interjected to assist in the question and answer sessions.


Chairman & Managing Director BHEL

Mr. Ramachandran is CMD of BHEL, one of the largest engineering and manufacturing enterprises in India.  He is also the Chairman of FICCI’s Defence Committee. He is on the Board of Governors of IIM, Lucknow; the Centre for Organisation Development, Hyderabad and on the Governing Council of Bharatidasan Institute of Management, Tiruchirapally. He is a member of the Quality Council of India. Policy Advisory Group of AIMA. As CMD of one of India’s leading power company that supports India Navy’s turbines programme, assists the ATV project and now manufactures Gun barrels, produces the Otto Melara gun for the Navy and Coast guard. BHEL is looking out for more opportunities, now that 26 % FDI in the Defence PSUs is permitted.


Scientific Adviser to India’s Defence Minister & Secretary, Department of Defence R&D MoD.

Co Chairman Dr Aatre is Scientific Adviser to India’s Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence – R&D and Director General Research and Development. As Director General R&D, he directs 51 laboratories of DRDO to achieve self-reliance in Defence Technologies that lead to the design and development of weapon systems for the three Services. He is thus responsible for the design and development of weapon systems for the three Services. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2002. Dr Aatre briefly explained DRDO programmes and highlighted the successful missile programmes and indicated that India had the capability to make ICBM. He looked for new ideas.


Joint Secretary (USC)

Mr. Prasad is Joint Secretary and Head of the USC (United States and Canada) Division in the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.  He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1976.  He was First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva.  He was Fellow at the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University, Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Geneva and UN Disarmament Fellow.


Chief Controller – R&D

Mr. Natarajan is a distinguished scientist and Chief Controller of Research and Development (ACE) at Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), looking after armaments, combat vehicles and engineering equipment. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering. He also explained the India US technology status as he has been a member in on going discussions and looked to advice.



Dr Chaturvedi is Director of Purdue e-Business Research Centre, Indiana, a consortium for e-Business Research. He is a Professor of Information Systems at the Krannert Graduate School of Management in Purdue University; and founder and Chief Technology Officer of Simulex, Inc. He is also an Adjunct Research Staff Member at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) Alexandria, Virginia, a leading think-tank on national security matters. He explained the US defence technology aspects and how US does business with other countries. 


Founder & CEO, 3Di Systems

Dr Desai is the Founder and CEO of 3Di Systems, a software services company. Earlier, he managed a group of scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  He is the first person and the only Indian-American to receive both NASA’s exceptional achievement medal for leadership in developing new space mission for NASA and JPL’s Excellence in Research Award. He brought with him a sample robot, which looked like an oblong box. But when it opened up it looked like a crawling animal with legs. Dr Rajiv explained how such robots which last 15 days could be strewn along the LOC to detect any movement. This could be a cheap and innovative method in controlling cross border terrorism. He and the Chairman Mr Marathe felt that such electronic surveillance devices could, better police the LOC and International border. Dr Sathanam explained how rats had chewed up cables in systems along the International Border.


Director, Purdue E-Business Research Centre

Dr Mehta directs the Entrepreneurship Initiative at Purdue University and co-directs the Purdue E-Business Research Centre (PERC).  He has done extensive research in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Industrial Organisation, Information Economics and Experimental Economics.  He is also co-founder of SIMULEX, a Purdue Technology Park company that is commercializing the research done at Purdue University, the startup works with several Fortune 500 companies and public sector entities. He also discussed surveillance systems and offered ideas.


Chairman, HAL and BAe-HAL Software Limited

Mr Mohanty is Chairman, HAL and BAe-HAL Software Limited, a joint venture company between HAL and BAE Systems, UK.  He is President-elect of the Aeronautical Society of India and Fellow of the Institution of Engineers (India) and Member of the Advisory Committee of SCOPE.  He is a member of the Defence Committee of FICCI. He explained how HAL had a mass of orders and had a turn over of approx. over  half a billion dollars and had given Government a dividend of Rs 300 crore. He explained all the programmes and stated the ALH which is to get DGCA certification will be marketed by Israel or BAe.


Chairman & Managing Director , Bharat Dynamics Ltd

Maj Gen Mohandas is Chairman & Managing Director, Bharat Dynamics Limited which is the prime missile manufacturer with DRDO. He explained how since he took over the company, he has reorganized it to meet the future commitments and created conditions for acceptance of new technology in the fields of missiles and torpedoes as also for developing state-of-the-art futuristic anti-tank and air-to-air missile systems. He was looking at support ideas and collaborations.


Former COS Western Command

Lt Gen N S Malik came in as a FICCI rep on defence and was critical that in many cases the User -  mainly the Army as he discussed, was not being involved in the research and final development of systems. In this connection the Arjun tank and rifles came in for consideration. 


Al in all, the session was one of the first where foreigners sat down with top Indians and discussed how the US-India defence industry and its potential can be enhanced. Laced with it is the security relations, which Americans who are actually Indians know about, and wish to improve and enhance Indo-US defence business. It was healthy and good to learn about the US bureaucracy and power centers.

We however feel USA has a difficult job to balance its present ties with Pakistan whose geography is tied with Oil routes and its history with Islam and terrorism. India has a strategic relationship with Russia and now Iran, even when USA is wooing Indian defence and keeping it engaged but the larger India–US–Pakistan triangle still has deep edges. Only time will tell how cleverly India which is poised in a wonderful position post cold war, gets the best of Russia and USA, Israel and France and keeps friendship with China for robust defence. Till that road map is scripted the present ambivalent situation will continue as India continues to be the second largest defence importer in this region, and Pakistan goes through big challenges and Iraq war looms large.

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