Tag Archives: Aerospace and defence

D&D, Profits and Sustenance

Part 4 – contd from Part 3:

There is a misplaced belief that Indian companies do not invest in R&D. The terms ‘Research & Development’ or ‘Design & Development’ are often misunderstood and used inappropriately. In the context of indigenisation efforts of the private sector, especially MSMEs, ‘Design & Engineering’ should be the more appropriate term. It is a well accepted fact that Indian MSMEs are highly innovative, enterprising and come up with unique solutions to various problems. Innovative ideas could range from a simple tweaking of a design or reverse engineering of a foreign OEM product. All these activities involve considerable D&E focused on the specific product. The only problem is that private industries do not have the habit of monitoring and accounting such expenditure under a separate head called ‘R&D’. This is due to the fear of the tax-man not allowing these costs as expenditures and treating them as capital investment (which it certainly is) and should result in repetitive long term returns over a period of at least 5 years. In the case of MSMEs indigenising complete LRUs or sub-systems, there is certainly a high indigenous D&D content whose risk is justified only if there is a likelihood of repetitive bulk production orders. The expected Return on Investment (ROI) has to be linked to the risks of D&D. ROI is also linked to the quantum of sales of the product over its lifecycle. Hence, the economic viability of indigenisation has to be based on future bulk production orders from the Armed Services. This is where a serious flaw exists in the indigenisation programmes of all Armed Services and DPSUs. They either do not know what their future requirements are or do not wish to reveal it. In either case, it is almost impossible for a private industry to assess whether there is any worthwhile business potential.

Yet another misconception among the Armed Services is that they have reimbursed the D&D costs to the Vendor at the end of successful completion and hence the vendor is fully compensated. They do not seem to appreciate that D&D cost is very different from the lifecycle value of the product realized. Total value realized from consumer and industrial products over their lifecycle would be more than 100 times their D&D cost. In the case of the specialized A&D sector, lose-loseit should be even higher due to the high value addition of the products. Hence, choking a vendor by not providing him serial bulk orders at least for a few years would amount to killing him without sustainability. This leads to a ‘lose-lose’ situation with both the successful vendor gradually dropping out of business and the Services losing a successful vendor, who could have multiplied his initial success into many more successful projects and graduating to higher levels of technology.

Profit was considered a dirty word in our country till recently. While it has turned decent, it still retains a gray shade among the Armed Services and DPSUs. How much or profit is ‘decent’ and how much is to be considered ‘profiteering’? Any B-school would teach that profit is all about maximization at every opportunity. Even in the background of a patriotic national sense connected with indigenisation of weapons and systems, profits allow the industries to grow and diversify multi-dimensionally. Ultimately, this becomes a national asset since the industry in involved in achieving self-reliance of defense equipment. In the absence of profits realized through repetitive sales, the industry would turn unsustainable. This appears to be the present state of MSMEs engaged in defense indigenisation. Only those who have an alternative revenue stream in a different domain are able to sustain their business even though the A&D sector is a drain on the other stream.

Make in India and 100% FDI in Defence: a double-edged sword?

041116-F-MK974-081

The ‘Make In India’ slogan announced by a refreshingly new and agile PM of our country two years ago was lapped up by many Indian enterprises that were starved of economic activity. It was almost like a mouth-watering feast of desserts being brought to a buffet table with a million hungry people waiting for a meal. Then came the pronouncement of encouragement to indigenously manufactured equipment, platforms and arms for the Indian defence forces already starved from lack of capital acquisitions from foreign companies for over a decade. Next came the DPP2016 with the inclusion of a special category ‘IDDM’ to pronounce that Indian Designed, Developed and Manufactured items would get the highest priority in the defense procurement process. This was the cherry topping the dessert!

And now comes the announcement of 100% FDI in A&D, closely followed by the American offer of shifting the F-16 production line to India. So, is this the final serving of the customary ‘Paan beeda’ or is it a hangman’s noose after the last fulfilling meal for the Indian industry?!

I must have attended at least ten defense related conferences and seminars across the country in the last 12 months. In every one of them, one fact that came through very clearly was the mirage of Transfer of Technology from foreign OEMs. Senior representatives of the Armed Services, the DRDO and DPSUs, openly conceded that no ToT of any value was ever achieved over the last five decades. It was almost unanimously agreed that the only way towards military self-reliance was through indigenous R&D, design, manufacturing and lifecycle support. Everyone pointed to the success of ISRO in the face of sanctions and denials and how this could be achieved in other spheres of defense preparedness. It is therefore worthwhile exploring various scenarios that could emerge from the allowance of 100% FDI in A&D.

  1. First of all, it needs to be appreciated that A&D industries operate with low volumes with production often taken up in batches. Hence, the employment potential is certainly limited compared to consumer/industrial product industries. When it comes to production of military platforms themselves (aircraft, helicopters, tanks, armoured vehicles, etc.), only 10 to 15 of these are made in a year. Almost all the systems and sub-systems are outsourced to a global supply chain that comprises specialized competences. Hence, even if a foreign platform manufacturer sets up an Indian operation, he would still import the systems and parts from his global supply chain. It is worth noting here that the systems and equipment constitute more than 70% of the lifecycle costs of the platform. Further, it is the systems that undergo periodic upgrades which are supplied by the OEMs. Hence, there is not much to be gained by the mere fabrication of the outer shell of an aircraft or tank if the expensive systems are also not manufactured in India. For this to happen, we need to create the complete ecosystem of Tier-1, Tier-2 and Tier-3 supply chain of Indian companies and these are far more important than the Integrator company. In the absence of such a holistic approach, we would only help foreign OEMs in increasing their participation in Indian defense procurements. This would go completely against the goal of ‘Self-reliance’.
  2. It is seen that foreign OEMs who establish their Indian subsidiaries very often assemble their products using CKD kits imported from abroad. Since the imported parts and assemblies are produced on a global production scale, they would cost relatively lower than being manufactured here in smaller volumes. However, they are still marked as ‘manufactured in India’ just as Korean and Taiwanese consumer products assembled in India. Further, since this only involves screw-driver technology, there can be no benefit of either exposure or value addition to Indian employees. On the other hand, with no design and development costs to be incurred, these products can be priced lower than what Indian companies can deliver, thus killing Indian R&D and design organisations, including DRDO and DPSUs.
  3. With long lifecycles of 40 years, all military platforms go through at least a couple of systems upgrades. If the foreign OEMs are included in the IDDM category just on the basis of their manufacturing plant located in India fulfilling the stipulated 60% indigenous content clause, then all the upgrades will have to automatically go to them with no participation of either genuine Indian owned companies or individuals. This is again a lost opportunity for Indian defense enterprises. This would ultimately lead to the demise of even the few Indian enterprises that have already shown signs of meeting the challenge of IDDM.
  4. Almost all spare parts of platforms and equipment are now being imported from the OEMs abroad. Without a strong drive towards indigenization of all parts and systems, more and more spares will be continued to be obtained from abroad, channelized through the Indian subsidiaries with a ‘Made in India’ label. This serves neither the hunger for technology nor exposure to manufacturing.
  5. In the unlikely event of a foreign OEM willing to manufacture a major chunk of equipment, systems and assemblies in its Indian factory and using them for meeting Indian defence requirements as well as exporting them back to the parent country, this would most likely involve use of automated machines and processes with little employment potential. While a small number of operators and technicians would find employment opportunities, they could gain some insights into modern manufacturing technologies. However, to interpret the nuances of such processes and technologies, leading to improvement of Indian design and development capabilities, it would need a more holistic exposure with smart and competent engineers involved in the operations. Would the foreign OEM do this?

Finally, coming to the offer of Lockheed Martin to shift their manufacturing plant of the F-16 fighter aircraft to India, it is a well-known fact that the F-16 was first manufactured for the USAF  forty years ago in 1976 with subsequent versions being supplied to various NATO countries. The manufacturing plant is already planned for closure and so it is evident that the company is offering to relocate a scrapped and obsolete plant to India. This once again confirms what we get from foreign OEMs!

In the final analysis, does 100% FDI sound like a double edged sword or a dagger used for ‘hara kiri’?

Budget 2016: To boost start-ups, find quick cure for the ‘pain of doing business’ in India

The annual budget exercise of the government has turned into more of an occasion for raging media debates and controversies than a sound and logical process of provisioning financial allocations for planned revenues and expenditures.

The fact that tax and duty rates are altered almost every year, by itself shows a lack of clear long-term planning while encouraging unreasonable expectations from society and industry.Budget should also quantify tax incentives for investors as proposed in the ‘Start-up India Action Plan’

An astute business instinct is truly reflected in our PM’s leanings towards encouraging business and industry, more particularly the small ‘Start-ups’. I sincerely believe that the flagship ‘Start-up India’ campaign should be seen as a clarion call of the PM to every Indian to ‘wake up and start working’ rather than limit it to only business start-ups.

No business or industry can operate efficiently and competitively if rest of society and the bureaucracy does not. Aspirations have to rise collectively rather than individually. It is only then that financial allocations can have any impact on society as a whole. Having said that, ‘Start-ups’ are the new-found bandwagon across the country with a national slogan to boot. With global luminary CEOs to add their flavours to the campaign, it is obvious that Budget 2016 would be scoured for any and all support, incentives and subsidies for ‘Start-ups’. So, what is it that they really need?

First and foremost, it would be funds and investors. The most empowering feature of the budget could be to confirm and quantify the tax incentives for investors as proposed in the ‘Start-up India Action Plan’. Extending this further, it is also necessary to incentivise the private sector for creation of new Incubation Centres since this is one of the key enablers of a Start-up ecosystem.

Investments in Incubation Centres should also be entitled to at least some tax incentives. Differential rates of taxes and duties have been used in the past for encouraging certain types of industries as well as for setting them up in undeveloped areas. This scheme could now be used to encourage setting up ‘Start-ups’ in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns.

This would have multiple benefits for investors, employers as well as creating new employment opportunities in smaller towns. Operating costs would also be lower. Of course, this would have to be coupled with improving infrastructure in the smaller towns, but isn’t this what the PM and his team are proposing every day? None of the above would make any impact unless the much talked about ‘pain of doing business in India’ changes to ‘ease of doing business’ in the real sense. The Start-up Action Plan also talks of achieving this.

It must however be emphasised that ‘Ease of Doing Business’ should be the norm across all categories of businesses, and not just for Start-ups, if India has to achieve the growth figures it aims for. To this end, the 3-year concessional period exclusively for Start-ups is meaningless. Although today’s start-ups are all in a connected flat world, and establishing digital connectivity is far easier than physical, the creation of ‘Start-up Clusters’ with all required infrastructure located within the physical boundaries of the Cluster would be beneficial in many ways.

Considering the fact that the entrepreneurs founding a start-up have no time to run around setting up the nitty-gritty of infrastructure, common facilities like stable power with stand-by gen sets, telecom, transport bays, clean and basic residential accommodation, virtual office or common office facilities, etc. could be created by the government itself as the facilitator. This would save precious funds and time for the entrepreneur.

Incubation centre could also be co-located. With remote online monitoring and a bunch of progressive bureaucrats involved, this dream is realisable. However, this needs a sizeable investment by the Governments, both Central and State. If the Government can be convinced, the budget needs to make a significant allocation for Start-up clusters across the country.

Ultimately, the Union Budget is only one of the contributors to achieve the various policies of the government of the day through allocation of the necessary funds. Much more needs to be done on the ground, in a sustained and committed manner, to achieve the goals of ‘Start-up India’.

The Original article appeared on First Post.

Defence Procurement Procedure’s new avatar inspiring; some players seek more tweaking

The much-awaited changes to India’s Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) were announced last month. This was in line with the promise made by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, after he took over the reins of Ministry of Defence in November 2014. The new look DPP, set to take shape in the next two months, gives major impetus to the Narendra Modi government’s flagship Make in India mission. It has some inspiring elements to boost Indian private companies to undertake research and development in the aerospace and defence (A&D) sector.

OneIndia elicited the views of some of the private A&D players to capture the mood of the industry, which has always felt that enough is not being done to win their hearts. Here are the excerpts from a series of interviews we did recently. Offset mechanism not working in interest of country G Raj Narayan, Managing Director of Radel Advanced Technology (P) Ltd, has been a visible voice in the last couple of years in various A&D forums. He says it was clear from the beginning that the offsets mechanism wasn’t working to the interests of India. “The insistence of the foreign OEMs to dilute the same on the pretext of ‘not finding capable Indian partners’ was only an indirect method of preventing any exposure to Indian companies on related technologies.

The only way to improve our state of self-sufficiency is to develop R&D in-house and design from whatever technologies we are presently exposed to (LCA, Jaguar & Mirage), and then move upwards to higher levels indigenously,” says Raj. According to him, the raising of the offset applicability to acquisitions of Rs 2000 crore and above is irrelevant. “The higher preference to ‘indigenously designed, developed and manufactured’ items certainly makes more meaning than the vague ‘Make’ and ‘Make & Buy’ categories. This is a confirmation of the preference for Indian products which needs to be applauded. Further, the focus on enabling and empowering R&D as well as supporting MSMEs through funding is a huge step forward. Though this could still throw up problems in distinguishing between ‘mature and capable’ MSMEs and ‘raw’ MSMEs, proper processes could certainly be set up to ensure that the right company get the right amount of funding appropriate with its track record and status,” Raj added.

Radel’s ongoing projects for various military programmes include, auto-selector bomb release system, speed switch, anti-collision lights, cockpit control unit and ground test rigs of various aircraft and helicopters. Introduction of IDDM a good move Puneet Kaura, MD and CEO, Samtel Avionics, says that the introduction of a new category — Indigenous Design Development Manufacturing (IDDM) – is a welcome move. “We welcome the move to introduce the IDDM category in the DPP as it will back companies like us who have proven competencies in indigenous design, development and manufacturing. Furthermore, the announcement of funding by the government for R&D purposes will help build a technology base in the country,” says Puneet, among the early players in the A&D sector. He said the growth of the Indian defence industry has been marred by delays.

“The new DPP addresses this through a definitive step to cut down the delays in procurement by reducing the time lag between AoN (acceptance of necessity) and the tender or request for proposal (RFP),” says Puneet. Samtel through its joint venture with HAL, has been developing MFDs for Su-30 MKI within its facility in Greater Noida. The Samtel-HAL JV has already delivered 125 sets of MFDs for Su-30 MKIs. Will boost investments and better quality of products According to Rajeev Kaul, MD & Group CFO, Aequs, told OneIndia that that take on LI policy in the new-look DPP is a positive step. “L1 policy is a bold move and it credits the capability of the bidder. This would encourage quality consciousness and boost investments in better quality products,” says Rajeev.

Aequs has been supplying main landing gear shackle for the B787 programme. Aequs manufacturing facilities are located in Belagavi, Bengaluru, and Houston. Offset limit should be brought back to Rs 300 crore Col H.S. Shankar (Retd), CMD, Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd, feels that increasing the offset applicability limit is a retrograde step and will deny Indian industry, particularly MSMEs, large chunk of their work content. “It is our view that offsets (with Rs 300 00 crore and above limit) was working satisfactorily (except for few glitches at MoD) and benefiting Indian Industries enormously. This will be a big blow to Indian industries. The limit should be reviewed and brought back to Rs 300 crore.

He said the MSMEs/FICCI had listed many suggestions to the the DPP Review Committee, but they were not accepted. “We wanted the ‘Make’ category to be split into two categories: ‘Make’ large industries with higher limits and ‘Make’ MSMEs with a limit of funding up to Rs 500 crore per project,” says Col Shankar. Commenting on the ‘strategic partners,’ the veteran A&D expert felt that it was a retrograde move of brining in ‘public sector mentality’ into private sector by reserving few big players in private sector. “This is a back door entry for big private sectors – something which Kelkar Committee had recommended as ‘Udyog Ratnas’ in 2016 and rejected and not implemented by successive governments,” says Col Shankar.

MSME categorisation limits for A&D products must go up Naresh Palta, CEO (Aerospace), Maini Group, said the government funding of 90 per cent for indigenous R&D will spur domestic products and technologies. He also felt that ‘accepting offers in single tender cases’ would remove major hurdles for industries developing niche products. However, Palta felt that the DPP’s new avatar is silent on measures for SME segment. “We want the new policy to increase MSME categorisation limits up to Rs 150 crore for A&D projects specifically. Further taxation relief to Indian products vis-à-vis imports, for level playing. We are still unable to compete our products in the domestic requirements with imported ones due to higher duties and taxation incident,” says Palta.

The original article appeared on OneIndia.

LCA-Tejas-15

Another Chairman of HAL talks

HAL seems to have finally realized that it needs to be a final integrator after all! Or has it?LCA

(http://m.thehindu.com/news/national/hal-seeks-to-lighten-light-combat-aircraft-burden/article7617119.ece) It now wants to offload major parts of the airframe to the large private players. We can now see the ‘biggies’ trooping to HAL to have a bite of the various platforms that HAL has been struggling to deliver to its reluctant customers.

How sincere is HAL when it makes such statements? I say this because this same intent has been repeated over the years ad nauseum without any action on the ground:

2002: www.thehindu.com/thehindu/2002/06/13/…/2002061301830400.htm

2003: www.thehindubusinessline.com/2003/02/12/…/2003021201020200.htm

2005 August: www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-logistics/outsourcing-bonanza-in-aviation-hal-alone-sets-rs-600crore-business-for-private-sector/article2185343.ece

2005 October: www.thehindubusinessline.com/…/haloutsourcing/article2193883.ece

If anybody thinks that this would make an impact on the Indian military aerospace sector, they are going to be sadly disappointed once again. All that this would achieve is to allow the large private players to put in place a certified system of producing airworthy structures, besides churning out riveted airframes and that too out of jigs and fixtures to be transferred to them by HAL. What nobody seems to notice is that a large part of a flying platform comprises its accessories and systems, including the most important power plant (engine), that really determines the flying as well as fighting capability of that aircraft. Onboard systems constitute about 25% of the acquisition cost of a military aircraft and along with the power plant, they account for 50% of the total cost. These also need maintenance and upgrades over the long operating lifecycle of at least 35 years. Considering that such systems can be tailored and modified to suit multiple aircraft, this constitutes the core of the aerospace industry. So, isn’t it silly that we are still talking only of manufacturing the shell and nothing about indigenous development and manufacture of all airborne systems such as avionics, electrical, hydraulics, pneumatics, air-conditioning and pressurization, cockpit instruments, weapons control, etc?

The Lucknow division of HAL was established out of the need for self-reliance in the development of accessories and systems. It has miserably failed to meet its mandate and hence this is where a multi-billion dollar opportunity exists for a large number of MSMEs alone. They can do wonders if pool their knowledge base, collaborate and synergize with each other and HAL can benefit by this too. This could lead to the creation of multiple consortia across the country each of which could be a potential exporter over time.

It is interesting that the CMD, HAL has talked of hand-holding. Let us look at their past track record. Five years ago, two divisions of HAL (Nasik and Lucknow) cancelled their outsourced manufacturing orders to a small private company stating that the labour unions had objected to outsourcing of work to the private sector. This was after going through a whole process of tendering, L1, price negotiation, and release of formal Purchase Orders. Is the CMD of HAL now sure that this will not happen again? Or, would the divisions now go to the unions to plead with them?

Talking of the 2600 SMEs that are supposed to be supplying parts to HAL, has anybody wondered what quantum of business each of these SMEs derive from HAL? If they are only manufacturing bolts and nuts, they could certainly graduate to aggregators by putting them together into a bracket or sub-assembly. That’s not what the SMEs would like to aim at. This precisely has been the problem with HAL. They never seem to be able to recognize the huge potential that lies untapped among the many competent and highly capable MSMEs of this country. Had HAL encouraged and facilitated the formation of clusters of MSMEs two decades ago, these would by now have graduated to system integrators, with each cluster delivering a communication or navigation or hydraulic system.

Why has HAL done nothing to support and encourage the existing MSMEs, many of whom are CEMILAC certified, who have already demonstrated their capabilities by manufacturing complete airborne equipment? Why does HAL not realise that creating such an ecosystem would be a force multiplier?

Aerospace manufacturers in Bangalore

Focus on nurturing designing skills

Make in India today is not addressing ‘Design in India’. Except for a few highly sophisticated technologies, we should by now have been able to design most products in India. Why has this not happened in spite of India boasting of the largest pool of young qualified engineers?

Let us look at the thrust sectors over the last two years — Electronics System Design & Manufacture (ESDM), aerospace and defense indigenisation. These areas involve state-of-the-art design and manufacturing capability which should result in truly Indian products and services. However, in spite of a six decade legacy of ‘licenced manufacturing’ of age-old products, we still haven’t demonstrated our capabilities of creating home-grown Indian products.

Over the past two decades, manufacturing in India has been dying a slow death due to various reasons. The most important of which has been the extraordinary growth of the information technology sector and the huge opportunities it provided for employment of graduates. This in turn attracted and encouraged the workforce, especially engineers, to focus on honing their skills in this field, while neglecting to improve their capabilities in the core engineering domains.

Contrast this picture with China where an environment was created that enabled the country to leapfrog over many advanced nations to become a manufacturing superpower. China welcomed global multinationals to set up their industries there — whether they were for fabrication of ICs or manufacturing aircraft. But they did not stop there. Through a close coordination between universities and the industry, China managed to reverse engineer these technologies to create their own design teams — from sophisticated aircraft and semiconductor fabs right down to stuffed speaking toys.

India needs skilled engineers

If the ‘Make in India’ goal has to make an impact on the Indian economy, we need to first skill our engineers in the art of products design and further to manufacture them in innovatively designed factories manned with skilled engineering manpower. This represents the core issue to our problems. We don’t have the skilled engineers to design products and drive the cogs of the manufacturing wheel, especially in the high-end technology fields.

This problem is magnified in the Aerospace and Defence sectors, where we need to build capabilities not only in design but also in robust processes, documentation and project management. Studies show that out of the 1.5 million engineering graduates emerging from universities across India every year, only 4 -7 per cent are employable in the core engineering industries (Aspiring Minds, Report 2014).

An earlier study by the World Bank (2010) shows that employers are not satisfied with the fresh graduates they recruit, providing  evidence that ‘the Engineering education institutions and the system does an inadequate job of developing analytical, evaluating and creative engineers.’

There is a lot of buzz about skilling, but again, the emphasis is only on skilling lower-level technicians. While this is important, it is imperative that we train and skill our engineers in the high value-addition areas of product and engineering design. Engineers aspiring for jobs in high technology companies in the core engineering sector, such as Aerospace, Defence or ESDM, find that they are completely out of their depth, and need to be trained for several months on the job, before they can be productive.

Skilling of engineers cannot happen overnight. This has to be part of an integrated scheme that develops interest, aptitude and aspiration to excel as a practising engineer. Design skills lie at the top of the pyramid that includes a variety of multi-disciplinary skills besides the need for being very systematic and analytical. A designer also needs to continuously keep abreast of technology and use it to innovate continuously.

A good design takes into consideration the entire product life-cycle that includes ease of use (User interface), ease of manufacture, maintenance and repair, among others. Design capability results from a closed loop process comprising Design, Analysis, Manufacture and Testing, as well as Maintenance and Support.

Such skilling cannot be done in a college environment. Universities and engineering colleges need to tie up with industries to provide the engineers hands-on exposure to live projects within the industry. This is where the limitations of the present university education system prevent a holistic exposure to practice. And this is where industry has its role to play, by giving a practical exposure to the aspiring engineers.

The need of the hour is therefore to bring all stakeholders together to the table to chalk out a holistic plan. This includes colleges, universities, industry representatives as well as the government representatives. Each one has an important role to play. To ensure the success of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, we need to think holistically. We need to ‘Create in India’, ‘Innovate in India’, ‘Design in India’ and ‘Manufacture in India’.

The original article appeared on DeccanHerald.

aerospace skilling

This is the level of our engineering graduates

How imperative is it to skill our engineers? When does skilling really start? At the post-graduate level? Graduate? School?

Let me narrate a recent incident to you, and then you can draw your own conclusions.

This is how an engineering graduate with a further six months training in embedded systems, attempted to solve a simple exercise that I had given her:

The task was to calculate digital samples for generating a sinewave. I casually suggested that she could use Excel, if she wanted. She looked quite puzzled and asked ‘How can Excel calculate the samples’? I said, ‘Can’t you give a formula’? She asked, ‘What formula?’ I said, ‘If you specify ‘x’, the computer can calculate ‘sin x’. Anyway, I said she could do it manually with a calculator also if she so wished.

She came back to me with a table written on her notebook with columns of ‘x in 1 degree increments’, ‘x in radians’, ‘sin x in decimal’, ‘Hex value in 8 bits’. She had stopped at 15 degrees since it was taking her too much time to manually calculate the entire 360 degrees. I also noticed that she had not taken the negative values of sin x. So, I asked her to calculate just one sample in the 2nd and 3rd quadrant.
She shot back, ‘Quadrant’?
I said ‘yes. Do you know what is a quadrant’?
She shook her head and sheepishly said, ‘I’ve forgotten. You mean 270 degrees?’
I asked ‘What is the first quadrant’?
‘Zero’
Without revealing any anger in my voice, I asked, ‘What is the range of the first quadrant’?
‘Zero. No, 90’
‘What is the second quadrant’?
‘180’
‘What is the third quadrant’?
‘270’
At that point I lost my patience and told her, ‘First quadrant is from 0 to 90. Can you now identify the 3rd quadrant’?
‘Yes sir. It is 180 to 270’.
Quite relieved at this huge success, I said, ‘Can you now just calculate 16 samples of a full wave and show me the result’?
She came back after 15 minutes and showed me a set of calculations that were all wrong. She had no idea what she had to do.
I thought I would go to the absolute basics and asked her ‘What is sin 30’?
She quickly whipped out her scientific calculator. I said, ‘You don’t need a calculator for that. Can you not draw a triangle and calculate’?
She stared at me as if I was out of my mind. Then she drew a vague triangle in which not even one angle was a right angle.
So, I drew one and denoted x as the ‘opposite’ and y as the hypotenuse. I said ‘Can you now calculate sin 30’?
‘But both x and y are unknown’.
I helped her by saying that ‘y’, the hypotenuse was 1. ‘Can you now calculate x’?
She quickly and triumphantly wrote ‘x= y*sin 30’!
‘I think you can calculate the value of x in relation to y, can’t you’?
An empty stare.
‘If one angle is 30 in a right-angled triangle, what would be the other?’ I asked.
’30 degrees’!
‘What is the sum of all three angles in a triangle’?
‘180. So, the other angle should be 60’.
So, I drew a mirrored triangle beneath the existing one to create the resultant equilateral triangle and asked ‘Does this shape give you any hints?’
An empty stare. So, I asked ‘Do you see any symmetry in the super triangle’?
‘Yes! If one is x, the other is (1-x)’!
I slapped my forehead and said ‘If there’s an isosceles triangle, can you guess x’?
‘It is x/2’.
With many more minutes of prodding and slapping my forehead, she arrived at ‘sin 30 = 0.5’
‘Now that you’ve managed to calculate sin 30, can you now calculate sin 45′?
She drew another triangle just like the 30 degree triangle, wrote x=0.5 and y=1 and marked the angle as ’45’.
I remarked ‘How did you mark x as 0.5′?
‘Sir, we just worked it out’!
I let it be and asked, ‘If one angle is 45 in a right angled triangle, what is the other angle’?
I was quite relieved that she did not go for her calculator. She actually blurted out ’45’ in just under 35 secs.
‘Great! If two angles are 45, can you figure out any relationship between any two sides’?
‘The base (adjacent) will be root 2’.
I said ‘If the two angles are 45, which two sides would be equal’?
Losing patience, I identified the base and the opposite sides as ‘1’. ‘Can you now calculate the hypotenuse’?
A blank stare forced me to draw dotted squares on the three sides and I asked ‘Does this picture now tell you anything’?
She shook her head. I asked ‘Have you heard of Pythagoras theorem’?
‘I have forgotten, Sir’.
Assuming that x, y & z may be more confusing than the a,b & c that we used to be taught in school, I wrote the latter.
No use.
So, I just wrote the formula c2 = a2 + b2.
Voila! ‘Root 2’ came the answer at last!!!!

‘Now that you have managed to calculate sin 30 and sin 45, can you now do sin 60’?
‘Sure’ was the very confident and proud reply.
She proceeded to draw yet another triangle that looked exactly like the first one and promptly wrote 60 in place of the 30.
She wrote ‘1’ on the hypotenuse and ‘1.5’ on the side opposite 60.
I was horrified.
‘How did you get 1.5 on that side’?
‘For a 15 degree increase from 30 to 45, that side increased from 0.5 to 1. So, for another 15 degree increase, it will increase by another 0.5’!
I thought to myself, “Absolutely brilliant logic”, but preferred to tell her calmly, ‘That’s not correct logic. If that was so, what would happen if the angle increased to 90’?

She proceeded to write two superimposed vertical lines for some distance and said, ‘It will be 2’.
‘How did you get 2? Why not 2.5’?
‘No, it can’t be 2.5’
‘But, you know what sin 90 is in reality, don’t you’?
‘Yes. 1’.
‘So, isn’t your logic wrong’?
‘Yes, Sir’.
‘So, now go back to your first triangle that you drew for sin 30. There’s something that you can see right there for 60’, I said.
She didn’t get it. So, I pointed out the 60 degree angle at the top of the triangle and asked ‘Can you write the sin 60 with reference to this angle’?
‘But that angle is in reverse. It goes beyond 180′.
I could not believe that I was listening to all this coming from an engineering graduate. Maintaining my composure, I took a deep breath.
I quickly drew another triangle as a mirror image of the 30 degree example and asked ‘Does this make any difference to the sin 30 just because the triangle is reversed’?
I was relieved when she said ‘No’.
‘So, can you now calculate sin 60 in the same triangle as the sin 30’?
‘Yes. It is 0.75’.
With anger and pain very visible on my face, I asked ‘How did you get that? Did you apply Pythagoras theorem’?
‘Oh yes. I forgot to do the squaring and rooting, Sir’!

If an engineering graduate has not understood the basics of what she studied in school, how did she not only progress through college but also get marks of over 60 and 70%? So, what’s the use of the examination system, not to talk of the class room lectures? If she does not even know the basic school-level geometry of a right angled triangle, let alone remember the name ‘Pythagoras theorem’, what science is she going to apply in life? What’s even more shocking to me is that many people tell me that 75% of the graduates are of this standard.

The question remains – If our engineering graduates do not learn how to apply basic  mathematical, engineering and science concepts to solve a problem, what do we mean by “Make in India”?

Aero India 2015

Indian Aerospace SMEs ready to match Global Quality Standards

This is the most appropriate time for our prime minister’s campaign of Make In India. We need to manufacture not only our own consumer durables and industrial products, but also the products required for the Aerospace & Defence sector. In fact it’s more appropriate for Make In India to be applied to the Aerospace and Defence since it involves the security of our nation and the self-reliance of our nation to defend and use our own equipment. We have been talking about self-reliance for more than five decades now.

But it’s unfortunate that we have not been able to extend the indigenous content of our arms and equipment including aircraft and battle tanks beyond 60%. It’s therefore high time that we all put our heads together. There is no dearth of talent, there is no dearth of knowledge, there is no dearth of man power, in fact India boasts of the largest engineering manpower talent and our engineering manpower is catering to the needs of global companies for application of their ideas and capabilities in products that are developed abroad. So why not we do it for ourselves? It’s therefore essential that the Indian SMEs are integrated into this whole plan of action.

“The Indian SMEs had proven themselves beyond any doubts by their contributions in the automotive sector and we have now reached a stage where Indian automobiles and their parts are exported globally”

So why can’t we do this for the Aerospace sector too? The Indian SMEs have their own core competence in their domains such as hydraulics, pneumatics, mechanical machining, fabrication, electronics, etc.

So it’s only a small quantum jump that they need to take to integrate themselves into the Aerospace & Defense sector and provide the most reliable, most cost effective and made in India products for not only the Indian market, but also export them abroad.