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Collaboration with defence projects a new chapter for Indian NR: Sheela Thomas

06 June 2014

The collaboration between Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) and National Institute of Research and Development in Defence Shipbuilding (NIRDESH) in the area of indigenization in the making of defence ships would open a new chapter in the use of natural rubber (NR) in India, said Mrs. Sheela Thomas, Chairman, Rubber Board. She was inaugurating the national seminar on ‘Indigenous Warships – Avenues & Opportunities for Indian Rubber Industry’ at RRII. Rubber has a key role in various defence applications. Depending on the nature of application natural or synthetic rubber products are used in this sector. Natural rubber, which is grown only in the hinterlands of the country, would now enter the ‘mainstream’ with the collaboration with defence, she added.

With its inherent property to absorb shock, vibration and noise, and to provide flexibility, rubber finds prominence in warship construction, said Admiral Ravi Kiran, Admiral Superintendent, Naval Ship Repair Yard, Kochi who was the guest of honour in the function. As stealth gains importance more and more importance is also being accorded to rubber applications onboard. He pointed out that, even though India is the fourth largest rubber producer in the world, we still depend on imports when it comes to finished rubber products for defence use. As we have progressed from a ‘buyer’s Navy to builder’s Navy’, we cannot but indigenise these components. He stated that India is the largest importer of defence products with approximately 70 per cent of our capital outlay used for imports. The defence sector usually operates at technological sophistication higher than that obtained in any country. This makes the creation of industrial capabilities in defence a greater challenge. India’s quest for self-reliance in defence, therefore, has to be seen in the context of the broader science and technology base in the country in general, and the industrial capability in particular, Admiral Ravi Kiran said.

Captain Ramesh Babu, Project Director, NIRDESH, in his introductory speech said that RRII had delivered prototypes of few rubber based articles to NIRDESH and they were found useful in defence applications.

Dr. James Jacob (Director, RRII) in his welcome speech said that as a rubber growing nation with a large industrial base supported by strong R&D and academic programmes and highly qualified manpower, India has the capability to design, develop and produce any rubber component required for our warships and submarines.

Representatives of raw material and rubber processing/testing equipment suppliers, vendors, dealers, rubber product manufacturers and personnel from defence sectors, particularly Navy, Shipyards, Defence Research Development Laboratories, VSSC and Academic institutions participated in the seminar.

Fifteen research papers were presented in the seminar. These were from the Navy, academic institutions, public sector undertakings, raw material and equipment suppliers and rubber product manufacturing industry.

Dr. Rosama Alex, Dy. Director, Rubber Technology, RRII proposed a vote of thanks

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