Achieving Self-Reliance in Defence through Technology Development Fund (TDF) Scheme of DRDO
“Atmanirbhar Bharat” Abhiyan started with the vision to make the country and its citizens self-reliant. Hon’ble Prime Minister envisaged five pillars of self-reliance in Economy, Infrastructure, System, Vibrant Demography and Demand in all sectors with one of the key sectors being National Security and Defence. In the Defence sector, the primary focus is on reducing dependence on imports and increasing capabilities and capacities of industries to meet the emerging security challenges.
The Union Budget 2022-23 has a major focus of government towards modernization of Indian Defence Industries, support for indigenous design, development and production of defence inventories. To realize these objectives, commitment has been made by the government to ensure 68% of total capital procurement in defence sector from domestic market and 25% of R&D budget of defence toward research through Indian entities.
To eliminate the dependency on foreign industry, promote and nurture Indian Indian industries, build capability of tri-services and in turn grow Indian economy, the Government of India came up with the Technology Development Fund (TDF) scheme. TDF scheme of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is amongst the most significant initiatives taken by the government to promote the development of indigenous state-of-the-art defence technologies in the country.
As a result of positive sentiments of the industry and confidence of the government in the scheme, Hon’ble RM has approved an enhancement in the Grant-in-aid of the scheme. The funding for the TDF scheme projects has now been increased to Rs. 50 Crore from the former Rs 10 Crore, wherein up to 90% of the project cost is covered by DRDO. Enhanced funding will enable the industry to take up development of big-ticket weapon platforms including systems in three positive indigenization lists. Realisation of larger systems will create significant avenues for export and build defence technology and manufacturing base for technology developments by Indian industry.
The scheme is creating impetus for industry and academia to collaborate and develop world-class indigenous technologies and providing necessary mentorship. This shall ensure Atmanirbharta in domain of National Security through indigenous technological solutions.
DRDO has ensured a seamless application process of the scheme which entails: floating of a detailed project requirement on the website (https://tdf.drdo.gov.in), selection of industries in a transparent process, and thereafter, provision of support and mentorship by DRDO to the selected industries. Relevant support for testing, procurement and commercialization of the developed technology is also provided by DRDO.
With the focus on indigenous developments in Defence, India is at a critical juncture where the government is making all the efforts to promote technology development and innovation. TDF scheme is playing a crucial role in encouraging Indian Industry to develop innovative and futuristic defence technologies along with catering to India’s security needs. Such initiatives will provide a fillip to ‘Make in India’ initiative, and build capacities for a stronger, prosperous, and confident India. With the framework in place, it is now up to the industries to make the best of the opportunity.