As one of the largest defence and security shows, Eurosatory, opened doors to visitors in Paris today, A number of large defence multinationals said, despite its natural attraction as one of the biggest markets in the world, India remained a very complex and difficult market to be in.
Firms like the ordnance wing of General Dynamics (GD), an American defence giant, said that they had tried their hand in India, but the market complexities, combined with lack of clear policies as well as India’s infamous bureaucracy obliged them to pull out of the Indian market. “India wants us to supply a few units and then hand over the technology for them to manufacture locally. How can we handover our technology, which is the output of decades of research & development, costing billions of dollars, to a country which places a small order for our products. It is just not worth it,’’ remarked an official of GD Ordnance.
He, however, also added that the scope for his unit’s business in India was anyhow limited due to the presence of 45 government-owned Ordnance Factories that could manufacture to meet most of the requirements of the Indian Armed Forces for the moment.
Otokar, a large Turkish manufacturer, had also tried its hand at entering the Indian market, but was obliged to stay away due the complex procurement procedures and lack of transparent and comprehensive policies for local manufacture. “We export to over 30 countries as we produce NATO-standard goods but at a very competitive price and that is the reason we sell to armed forces of many NATO countries as well, including the United States and the United Kingdom,’’ remarked an official of Otokar, with knowledge of the Indian market.
“Despite all our experience and our quality products, we are unable to make headway in India as it is a very complex market. In addition, the government wants to have the latest technology products, but wants to build them indigenously,” said the official. He pointed at some combat vehicles that the diversified conglomerate Tata had developed. “These are new products built by Tata, but we are not certain if they meet all the quality standards of global armed forces or will the Indian government oblige the Indian forces to buy the vehicle even if it is not the latest or best in the market,’’ he said.
The few Indian defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) present at the event were, very bullish about their prospects. Garden Reach Shipyard, Kolkata as well as Ordnance Factories Board, Bharat Dynamics Limited and Bharat Electronics Limited had put on display the Indian domestic defence manufacturing capabilities with missiles, munitions, electronics and ship models, comprising the Indian offer.
For most Indian producers, however, exports remained a small part of their production as they struggled to meet the demand of the Indian Armed Forces.