Roorkee: The 'Make in India' vision is a priority for defence procurement but "operational readiness" is the military's primary task as "we don't want people to look at us with big eyes", Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said.
"We need adequate equipment and that cannot change. Make in India is in its place, our military preparedness is paramount," he said speaking at a panel discussion on Make in India initiative in the defence sector on the opening day of the three-day technical festival, Cognizance 2016, of IIT Roorkee on Friday.
"I would like to make it clear...Make in India is our priority for defence procurement...but the first priority cannot be forgotten, the primary task of our military, which is operational readiness...in view of our neighbours...so that no one can look at us with big eyes," he said.
There have been calls for stepping up the country's defence preparedness after the terror attack on the Pathankot Air base and in Gurdaspur.
Opposition Congress had in Parliament recently criticised the government for its handling of the Pathankot incident in which seven security personnel were killed.
An IIT alumnus, Parrikar says a public life was something he never anticipated and he was pushed into the river of politics from behind but managed to "swim successfully".
"When I came here, I was given this two-page prepared speech but then I thought since we are talking of 'Make in India', so I would have my own speech. So, guess I'll go my way, the IIT way, and talk directly the students," he said, to a loud cheer, as he spoke extempore.
"It's almost like coming back to IIT-Bombay... I spent my B.Tech days at IIT and later also took up a PG course but never finished the M.Tech... But more than degree and I valued knowledge. I spent 6.5 years at IIT, I didn't spend 6.5 years for undergraduation... but I have a B.Tech degree, as my affidavit says, and not M.Tech... Someone, may file a case (against me)," he said, leaving the crowd in raptures.
The minister was apparently making a reference to the row related to Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani's educational qualifications.
On being a reluctant politician, he said, "Many IITians went to the US, the UK but I stuck here. Let me tell you I never anticipated joining politics. I was the one sitting by the side of the river and someone pushed me from behind into it.
"But, I swam successfully, in that river and became chief minister of Goa and then the defence minister," he said, adding, "I was the general secretary of the mess and quite popular and thus got elected for three years. At least that proves that doing the mess management I learned to steer the state finances properly."
Moving on to examinations, he said the current generation is "luckier" as far as engineering examinations are concerned.
"Let me tell you, open book examination is the most difficult one. As you have to know where the answer lies, going through the book twice, thrice" as he asked students to inculcate, out-of-box thinking and contribute to the growth story of India.
Before ending his speech, he recounted a humour-laden story of a French King and his court astrologer to reinforce his point about Make in India.