India & Singapore can Jointly Explore Warship Building Ventures
An expert from an Indian naval think-tank is of the opinion that Singapore and India should consider exploring the untapped potential of collaboration and cooperation in naval shipbuilding.
Given Singapore’s technological and design expertise and the low production and labor costs in India, both the countries can explore the possibilities, particularly in terms of labor and raw-material. There are excellent prospects for the two countries to jointly build warships in India, said Captain Gurpreet S Khurana, executive director of the National Maritime Foundation in New Delhi.
In a conference in New Delhi, he said, “India has lately offered several incentives to foreign firms to undertake joint-research and co-development of defense hardware,” he said.
India’s new slogan “Make in India” has given pretty much reason and momentum to foreign investors to manufacture in India. Coupled with the attendant facilitation of overseas investments, and the raising of foreign direct investment (FDI) cap on defense from 26 percent to 49 percent, both these countries can explore the innumerable opportunities to join hands and work together in building warships.
Khurana spoke at the conference organized by the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies of Singapore (IDSS) South Asia Programme on “The Merlion and the Ashoka: Singapore-India Strategic and Defense Ties”
He also noted that the private sector in India was now being encouraged to participate in the defense industry, which was until then driven largely by state-controlled or public-sector enterprises. The strengthening of defense cooperation between Singapore and India was also imminent.
Khurana also pointed out that the defense technology was envisaged by the Singapore leaders as an aspect of cooperation more than a decade ago during the signing of the mutual Defense MoU in 2003. Subsequently, India-Singapore Defense Procurement and System Development Working Group (DPSD-WG) met in June 2007 to identify and discover specific areas of such cooperation; the two countries were yet to develop a functional outline and agenda.
He elaborated that the countries must not only concentrate and give attention to the buyer-seller relationship but also move towards long term cooperation and understanding. He said, “This facet of Singapore-India defense cooperation must not be seen as an only buyer and seller relationship; both the nations may have to move towards a long term and comprehensive cooperation such as joint scientific and technological research, development and production of weapons system and even explore a sale to international customers”
Khurana also highlighted the possibilities of commencement of defense hardware co-development tie-ups between India and Japan in the near future. He was of the opinion that Japan could benefit from India, “which is poised to spend a whopping USD 150 billion on defense hardware over the next decade, and is creating an in-house investment-friendly environment.”
He also noted that the only hurdle for Tokyo would be the restriction posed by the post-World War II Japanese Constitution on sharing defense hardware and technology with other countries. But again, he stressed, that this is likely to be overcome sooner than later.