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India to become global drone hub by 2030

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India is a changed country now; we do not wait for someone to give us a global template that will get implemented as-is; instead, we are writing our own script. We are setting ambitious goals and creating paths to achieve these big results.

There are many industries where India has made its mark globally; this includes the IT industry, digital payments and the entire digital ecosystem, vaccine manufacturing and many more. Time to add one more opportunity to this list: the drones.

India is always open to change and keen to adapt to anything new in technology and drones will not be an exception. Drones will play a big role in India’s ambition to reach a $5 trillion economy, as they are likely to create a positive impact across multiple segments of the Indian economy.

Drone is an enabler that will drive productivity for many enterprises, and they are likely to replace many of the current outdated practices across industries. Indian drone industry is likely to be over $35 billion by the year 2030 and the journey has just started

The government of India has a clear vision and ambition for this industry. The government has taken many progressive steps to create a strong drone eco-system in India. This includes liberalised drone rules-2021 to open Indian skies, a Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for drone and drone component manufacturers to push “Make in India”, UTM (Unmanned Aircraft System traffic management) to define roles & responsibilities of all the key stakeholders, restrictions on drone imports to support local innovation, “Drone Shakti” program to massify drone usage.

The Government and PSUs started the initial demand (government as a market-maker) for drone products and services. This covers multiple use cases like land mapping, defence procurements, agriculture.

Private sector industries and MSMEs are not far behind, they are exploring opportunities to leverage drone technology in each stage of their operations. There is a great deal of interest from the private sector in the spaces of infrastructure inspection, surveillance, supply-chain, education, and many more.

The Indian drone industry is extremely vibrant. Everyone is looking forward to rallying behind the government’s vision for the drone industry. The industry is seeing new challenges thrown at it from different industries and geographies. Addressing these new opportunities will help scale up this industry to the next level. The entire industry is working towards building the right products and services in India, for the globe.

Drones have the potential to transform the lives of over a billion Indians. I believe that the next decade is the decade of India, and drones will play a big role in that journey.

As a key player within this eco-system, we are looking forward to building some great deep tech, cutting-edge drone products and services that can serve our nation and customers and supporting the government’s ambition of making India a drone hub.

The road to making India a drone hub, must pass through the test of creating a great drone ecosystem in India. An ecosystem where everyone has a big role to play in this decade.

Regulators to keep opening the skies and creating more opportunities; manufacturers to build the right products for India and the globe; service providers to create differentiated products led by data & analytics; institutions to provide the right talent that the industry needs and investors to support the rapid growth of this industry.

Overall Industry needs to produce low-Cost, high quality (hardware) + Deep tech (software + AI + ML or Services) drone products and services that are deeply rooted in the problems that our customers face, this will help in scaling up the industry. As the industry expands, the focus should always be on solving the real customer problems through technology; this helps build a great eco-system that is sustainable and scalable.

Union budget generally sets the tone for the industry and the economy. Budget 2023-24 should look at the long-term prospects of the industries like drones and continue with the momentum on the liberalised policies rolled out for the industry so far.

The budget should not only look at drones from an end-user perspective but also as an enabler which can positively impact many industries within the economy. This budget can set the tone for mass scale adoption of drones in India.

Budget can act as a catalyst in driving large scale manufacturing through drone SEZ’s, support with financing to drive mass adoption of drones, easing the Insurance regulations for drone usage, export policies to support companies looking at markets beyond India and incentivising skill development.

The day is not far when we will see every enterprise, armed forces, and every Indian home will be equipped with a drone.

By Anjali Rattan, Business Chairperson of RattanIndia Enterprises Ltd

The Statesman

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