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We Would Like the Procurement Process to Become More Favourable to the Indian Industry So That Wherever Capability Exists Within the Country it is Utilised to the Full
Managing director, MKU Pvt Ltd., Neeraj Gupta

Neeraj Gupta How was the year 2014 for MKU’s business in the Indian defence market?
It was a landmark year for MKU. We bagged a very prestigious contract for the modernisation of Ecuador police. This contract is for the supply of body armour for the entire police force of Ecuador, the largest such contract bagged by an Indian company. During the year we were also able to sign another project for the F125 programme of the German Navy. There was some progress in the on-going RFPs of the Indian ministry of defence (MoD) and we hope that this year will see it reach a logical conclusion. We were able to sign important contracts with the Gujarat Police and other special forces in India. The year also saw us make technological breakthroughs and come out with Generation 6 armour technology, which, we feel will significantly reduce the stress and fatigue encountered by modern day soldiers by reducing the weight of their body armour.

Was there any progress in the Indian Army’s ballistic helmet programme? How strongly are you placed in this competition?
There was some progress in this programme. The rigorous trials of equipment are nearly complete and we should soon see the contract being concluded. We at MKU have always given prime importance to technology and have strived to stay ahead of the technology curve. This investment has paid us good dividends and we have been able to meet the technological challenges posed by the MoD and other end users across the globe. Investment in R&D is an ongoing process for us and we continue to spend close to 10 per cent of our turnover in development.

Another major focus area for your company is body armour business. Have you make presentations to the Indian Army on your products? If yes, how did they react?
Body armour has been at the core of our business. As mentioned above we spend a lot on R&D in this field. It is through the continuous efforts of the team of engineers in India and Germany that we have the wherewithal to not only meet but exceed the requirements of the Indian defence forces. We have been interacting with them on a regular basis and look forward to greater cooperation.

What are your thoughts on government’s ‘Make in India’ plans?
We strongly support the government’s focus on ‘Make in India’. We believe in the enterprise, dynamism and capability of the Indian industry and are of the firm view that given the right policy support, the industry will rise to the challenge and enable the government to realise its dream of making India self-reliant. Of course, a lot needs to be done in terms of technological advances, gearing up the industry to international standards and more importantly making them aware of the international requirements. But the industry can definitely rise to the occasion. This initiative is a step in the right direction.

You do more business outside the country than in India. Now with the emphasis on indigenous production, do you think there will be more opportunities for you in the country as well?
Yes, it is true we do more business outside the country — and now even the government has realised the importance of defence exports and is strategising accordingly. We believe the focus on international market/ exports will not only help bring in much wanted foreign exchange, but also make the Indian industry gear up to international standards. It will bring in technological advancement, lead to product innovation, improve skills, knowledge and overall make the industry more vibrant and competitive. At the same time, it will make the industry better suited to meet the requirements of the Indian defence and paramilitary forces as well.

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