We want to incentivize manufacturing in India”
After setting up units in India for wings, doors and beams for aircraft, a host of global aviation giants are pursuing facilities in the country to serve an industry, seen needing 1,400 new aircraft by 2020, says Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.
In an exclusive interview at his office in Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan, just a stone’s throw from the majestic Safdarjung’s Tomb in central Delhi, Mr Raju said a host of global manufacturers regard India as their next major hub and market for both defence and commercial sector aviation. “Pratt and Whitney is one of the companies. They are very much interested in setting-up shop here in the coming time,” Mr Raju said. “We have met them several times to discuss their proposal. Things are at an advance stage.”
Pratt and Whitney is an arm of the US-based United Technologies, providing design, manufacturing and services for aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. Pratt & Whitney engines made their debut in the country in 1960, powering flag carrier Air India’s Boeing 707-437 aircraft. Mr Raju sees India emerging as a hot spot for aviation and allied industries, moving beyond the two big players in the aircraft manufacturing space, Boeing and Airbus that were operating in a host of areas, including sourcing of some key components from their joint ventures here.
“This is not just as an offsets option in defence deals, or to satisfy the purchase clauses, but also for making our country among their global hubs for manufacturing and sourcing,” the minister said, adding “Make in India” campaign, with ease of doing business, was being viewed seriously. He said added emphasis was being laid on the synergies between defence and civil aviation sector. “The defence offsets in the new procurement guidelines can also be used in civil aviation sector. This has the potential to give a major boost to this sector in the country. We are looking at it and will take it forward,” the minister said.
Offsets is the amount a global company has to invest in India as a percentage of the order value it gets from the government and its agencies, notably in the defence space. The offsets from the Indian Air Force alone, for commercial aviation, are seen as a Rs.20,000-crore potential.
Mr Raju said talks were also on with the finance ministry to incentivise manufacturing in India. “We have the youth. We want employment and skilling to be done here. Companies that are willing to bring both, or at least some part of their manufacturing here, will be fully supported and facilitated. This is our government’s policy,” the minister said.
“The global industry also sees some major plus points in India. We offer cost advantages ranging between 15-25 percent in manufacturing, depending on the type of business. Indian industry, our people are capable enough to undertake complex manufacturing.” He also added the age-old problem of certification and quality assurance of the products made in India wasn’t a hindrance. “We have regular and rigorous quality checks. The DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) is quite capable and in checks and certification,” Mr Raju added.