Interview | Kishore Jayaraman, President, Rolls-Royce India & South Asia

India Remains a Key Growth Market for us and we Remain a Committed Partner in the Country’s Progress Towards Self-Reliance

Kishore JayaramanThis has been an unusual year. How did Rolls-Royce adapt to new realities dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic?

This year was indeed unusual and challenging. The impact of the coronavirus was felt across nations, sectors, and businesses. However, the pandemic also brought forth our strength as a nation and as a people. We salute the brave officers of the Indian armed forces for their contribution in providing vital support to communities during these challenging times even as they continue to bravely secure our borders. At Rolls-Royce, it has been our endeavor to ensure consistent support to the forces through this time. Our field service representatives have been constantly supporting Indian air force personnel to maximise the availability of engines on wings and provide on-ground technical advice directly to our customers, thereby drastically reducing maintenance and overhaul times. Our Defence Service Delivery Centre in Bengaluru is the only one in Asia that is specifically at the service of the Indian armed forces and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The centre is aimed at constantly improving Rolls-Royce’s responsiveness to the customer, thus enabling the customer to further improve engine availability.

Rolls-Royce’s MTU engines propel and power several vessels of both navy and Coast Guard. Our teams, stationed at several locations along the Indian coastline, have been providing high levels of service and support to ensure optimal performance and functionality of all our engines through these times. Given travel restrictions at various locations due to the pandemic, we often worked virtually with available resources on-ground to resolve service requests and deliver consistent functionality of the vessel.

Globally, our facilities are operating with stringent distancing norms keeping our production lines moving, and our support teams continue to assist armed forces as well as airline customers around the world. We have also strengthened our technology infrastructure even as our people have adopted and adapted to new, digital ways of working.

Another key development is that Rolls-Royce has collaborated with leading companies to form Emer2gent, a new global alliance of data analytics experts challenged with finding new, faster ways of supporting businesses and governments with data-led insights to help accelerate economic recovery. Emer2gent will combine traditional economic, business, travel and retail data sets with behaviour and sentiment data, to provide new insights and practical applications to support the global recovery from COVID-19.

Our teams at R2 Data Labs have also been working to create an Artificial Intelligence (AI) framework called The Aletheia Framework™ to make the application of AI ethical and trustworthy.

A new, widely accepted normal emerged from this crisis, and in fact gave us an extraordinary opportunity to make it a better normal by becoming more agile, humane, creative and self-reliant.


Did the pandemic affect your ongoing programmes in India? What has been the progress on those?

This pandemic has tested the adaptability of businesses to sustain into the future. The health and safety of our people has been and remains our top priority through this time. The initial period of nation-wide lockdowns due to the pandemic temporarily affected our operations and those of our partners. However, we soon bounced back from the effects of the pandemic to find ways to first and foremost resume support for all our engines and assets in service with the armed forces.

We have helped enable a strong ecosystem for aerospace and defence manufacturing in the country and have continued to work with our supply chain partners to ensure consistent delivery to the global supply chain ecosystem. We have also been working closely with our joint ventures—International Aerospace Manufacturing Pvt Ltd. (IAMPL) and Force MTU Power Systems to ensure continuity during this time.

Rolls-Royce operates in a highly technology-intensive industry and innovation is at the heart of all we do. India remains a key growth market for us and we remain a committed partner in the country’s progress towards self-reliance.

From Rolls-Royce’s perspective, how is Aero India 2021 different from its previous editions in terms of your exhibits and participation?

This past year, the world has adapted fast to the new normal of communicating virtually with each other. Opportunities to meet in person with customers have been few, and so this year’s Aero India will be creating a significant platform for businesses and customers to meet both physically and virtually.

While we will not have any physical displays to ensure minimal touchpoints, we look forward to familiarising our customers and partners with our advanced defence technology offerings. We will have a dedicated chalet to interact with our guests and customers and follow all necessary safety measures and precautions to ensure a safe environment for our teams as well as for all customers and partners who will visit us at the chalet. Unlike past years, we have also limited the number of team members who will be present at the chalet and made arrangements for all meeting areas to follow safe distancing norms. It is also noteworthy that health and safety measures have been put in place by the organisers to ensure the safety of participants and attendees.



Rolls-Royce has a history of working across domains in India. Do you envisage taking forward this legacy towards joint research and development?

We have been manufacturing in India, with Indian partners for nearly 60 years and we have world class component manufacturing facilities here today. We remain keen to participate in co-development programmes with the Indian government, to support indigenisation. We believe the future will move beyond ‘Make in India’ to ‘Create in India’, and Rolls-Royce is well positioned to support India’s future needs.

The defence sector in India has come a long way and today boasts of a healthy ecosystem of manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. As India renews its focus on strengthening its defence capabilities while localising technology and manufacturing, we believe the time is opportune for strategic partnerships. Against the backdrop of the changing global and regional geopolitics, co-development programmes with local manufacturing as a corollary can offer a much-needed impetus to leapfrog India’s goal of self-reliance.

Today, as we prepare to rise above the impact of a global pandemic, India has the talent, potential, ingenuity and digital ecosystem to recast the framework of manufacturing and build an ‘Atmanirbhar’ Bharat. We believe that joint programmes will enable an upward spiral in the development of the defence sector in India.


What kind of engagement do you have with DRDO with regards to aero engines?

We are working closely with the ministry of defence, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and others to explore opportunities to co-create products and solutions for the Indian defence sector. We believe that joint programmes between countries will lead the way in the future as India’s defence requirements are evolving, making indigenous development of modern defence hardware and technology a top priority for the government.

We remain committed and keen to participate in co-development programmes with India to support indigenisation, in line with the country’s self-reliance vision of ‘Atmanirbhar’ Bharat. We have been manufacturing in India with Indian partners for nearly 60 years, and believe we are well positioned to support the country’s future defence needs.


Given the growing awareness about environment, what measures has Rolls-Royce taken to ensure cleaner and safer engines, both aero and marine?

At a time when the world is facing several challenges, innovation and investing in next generation technologies will help us develop new tools and approaches to tackle major societal challenges as well as grow our current competitiveness. As pioneers, Rolls-Royce will continuously innovate to provide the cutting-edge technologies that deliver the cleanest, safest and most competitive solutions to meet our planet’s vital power needs.

There is a growing focus on sustainability for the future as customers and consumers grow more environmentally conscious in a post-COVID world. It will be important for businesses to invest in developing sustainable solutions going forward. In the future, as we move to a low carbon global economy, our engines will become part of broader, hybrid systems with lower emissions and lower environmental impact. These systems will deliver more power; essentially more electric, more intelligent power. This builds on the experience we have already gained in naval markets where we have been supplying more power efficient hybrid and integrated full electric propulsion system solutions for many years now.  We also lay special emphasis on improving the productivity, manufacturing practices, plus new ways of designing and servicing products, using sophisticated technology. We will also continue our work towards realising our IntelligentEngine vision for the future of aircraft power, including new integrated engine controls, allowing faster and more effective ground support.

In our marine business we are exploring new methods of ship intelligence and autonomous shipping. The results will help optimise ship and crew performance. We are also geared for future engine development programmes as well as for developing solutions to meet critical power requirements.

As a key player in vital power markets across the world, we believe we have a responsibility to continue the work we are doing, as it will only be more relevant in the times ahead.

Adour powered Jaguar at HAL


With increased emphasis on indigenisation and Prime Minister Modi’s call for ‘Atmanirbhar’ Bharat how can Rolls-Royce engage more closely with Indian companies, both in the public and private sector?

India has an ambitious roadmap to spend USD130 billion in the next five to seven years to modernise the armed forces. This includes procurement of a range of weapons, missiles, air defence systems, fighter jets, submarines and warships, drones, surveillance equipment and developing infrastructure for extensive use of artificial intelligence. Simultaneous to this is the government’s self-reliance vision to step-up local defence production and create ‘Atmanirbharta’ in defence. India’s recent reforms on defence procurement are also a significant step towards becoming ‘Atmanirbhar’ and boost indigenous defence capabilities.

Rolls-Royce is well positioned as a natural partner in India’s defence growth and ‘Atmanirbhar’ Bharat journey. Rolls-Royce has been India’s military partner for over eight decades, with over 750 Rolls-Royce engines of 10 engine types powering aircrafts of the Indian military. Our MTU brand of engines power India’s indigenously developed Arjun Main Battle Tanks as well as several Indian Coast Guard and navy ships.

With a legacy partnership that rests on many years of capability development and co-manufacturing, Rolls-Royce is committed to partnering India’s progress. We believe the future will be all about ‘Creating in India’ in collaboration with willing global players, with India co-owning the Intellectual Property (IP) in areas of strategic importance. This will catapult India’s vision to create a strong ecosystem and commercialise production locally, and eventually use this base to boost global supply chain and export capabilities.

We have a strong base of capabilities across technology development to supply chain and manufacturing, built over many years. Add to this our proven commitment to India through successful transfer of whole engine technology. We have also successfully participated in and led international combat engine collaborations in many markets. We believe, therefore, that Rolls-Royce is well positioned as natural partners in India’s defence growth and ‘Atmanirbhar’ Bharat journey.


What innovation is happening in Rolls-Royce in terms of automation, intelligent systems, and man-machine interface?

At Rolls-Royce, our constant focus is to improve our engineering expertise, high-performance solutions, industry knowledge, and global reach to better serve our customers.

Today, we are extensively using data to bring together our products, services and digital capability to realise our Intelligent Engine vision for the future of aircraft power. The Intelligent Engine of Rolls-Royce will pave the way for the new integrated engine controls, allowing faster and more effective ground support. Creating ‘digital twins’ for physical engines will allow the company to move beyond engine health monitoring—which it has done for many years—and utilise additional aircraft data to provide value-added services to airlines.

In our marine business, too, we are exploring new methods of ship intelligence and autonomous shipping. The results will help optimise ship and crew performance. Our defence business is utilising digital innovation to ensure it can deploy the right assets to the right places required for military operations.

In India, our Engineering Centres and R2 Data Labs are examples of how we are working to accelerate data innovation and using advanced analytics, industrial Artificial Intelligence and machine-learning techniques to develop data applications that will unlock design, manufacturing and operational efficiencies.



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