Dr. Vivek Lall, who was heading Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security unit in India is now leading a new technology venture being set up by Indian industrial giant Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).
Industry sources have informed StratPost that Lall, who joined RIL two weeks back, is reporting directly to the Chairman and Managing Director, Mukesh Ambani. His brief is to stand up the new venture, which will focus on technologies like advanced materials and advanced communications systems, that are likely to have a bouquet of applications in the homeland security, aerospace and defense sectors, not to mention spin-offs into other areas.
Although the immediate intention is not to necessarily produce complete products for these sectors, the underlying idea is to conduct fundamental research and development, and effect partnerships with companies around the world to bring these basic critical technologies to India, along with the associated knowledge and skills.
The purpose of this is to create capabilities in India that would be necessary for any meaningful and genuine indigenous development and manufacture of equipment and services in these sectors.
He is currently putting together a business plan and a core team to take the project forward, and has cast a wide net to snag talent, especially capitalizing on his time spent in the US, including at the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Significantly, the new enterprise will be based in Gurgaon, near New Delhi, and not in Mumbai.
In setting up this company, which has not been christened yet, RIL seems to have done things differently in two important ways. Firstly, the recruitment of new talent to drive the project forward rather than depute existing RIL leadership and executives for the task.
And secondly, this is in contrast to the existing approach employed by many other Indian industrial majors that are the usual suspects queuing up to conclude Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with foreign companies in this domain, as their ticket into the defense sector.
Indian companies are known to end up manufacturing minor components for their foreign partners, which have the primary objective of merely fulfilling the letter of their obligations for defense offsets.