Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET)

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Source-This post on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) has been created based on the article “The innate limitations in executing iCET” published in “The Hindu” on 10 July 2024.

UPSC Syllabus-GS Paper-3- Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

Context– The iCET initiative reflects broader U.S. strategic interests, as highlighted in a Senate report urging closer military ties with India to reduce dependence on Russian weapons.

This aims to integrate India into global supply chains for advanced military technology, reducing dependence on other countries strategically. However, it faces several structural challenges despite positive talks between national security advisors of both countries.

What challenges does the iCET initiative face in its execution between India and the U.S.?

1) Autonomy of U.S. Defence Companies– U.S. defence firms do not want to transfer technology due to stringent intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and export control laws. They are cautious about sharing military technologies, even in joint ventures that align with U.S. strategic interests.

2) Limited Technology Transfer-Negotiations have secured technology transfers for projects like manufacturing GE F-414 engines and assembling MQ-9 UAVs in India. However, critical know-how remains restricted.
For ex- General Electric agreed to transfer about 80% of the technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for engine production, but critical aspects like metallurgy for turbine discs are not included

3) Mercantile Concerns – U.S. defense vendors are accountable to shareholders driven by commercial interests, which limits their willingness to share technology. These commercial concerns, combined with bureaucratic challenges, were the reasons behind the failure of the 2012 Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) between India and the U.S

4) Prohibition on “Jugaad”- India’s agreements with the U.S. before acquiring these defence assets limited their use of the innovative jugaad approach. Also, most purchases through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route were subject to the strict ‘Golden Sentry’ program, which does not allow for jugaad adaptations.

Read More-India-USA relations

How does the jugaad approach contribute to India’s military strategy concerning the iCET initiative?

The jugaad approach involves innovative adaptation of imported platforms by India’s military to enhance operational capabilities. Jugaad has allowed Indian forces to optimize foreign equipment for diverse terrain and climatic conditions.

For ex– it enabled Chetak and Cheetah helicopters, mainly French Alouette III and SA-315B Lama models, to operate at altitudes above 14,000 feet in the challenging Siachen glacier region.

What should be the way forward?

1) Domestic defense officials should push for integrating jugaad principles into iCET projects. Allowing flexibility in modifying U.S. platforms could enhance their effectiveness in Indian contexts.

2) It is essential to overcome bureaucratic inertia and prioritize effective implementation of initiatives like iCET rather than merely focusing on discussions.

Question for practice

What challenges does the iCET initiative face in its execution between India and the U.S.?

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