By Chirag Sharma
India has taken pride in being a service-oriented nation for a long time. The dawn of a new digital era and massive adoption of smartphones over the past few years has throttled sectors such as IT, E-Commerce, Fin-tech, Urban Mobility, Telecom, to new heights. Such changes have not only significantly boosted our service economy but also encouraged development of a robust Manufacturing eco-system, especially in the Auto and Mobile sector.
Over the years, the drone Industry has witnessed several, drastic regulatory changes involving heavy compliance burdens, which has stifled innovation, operations as well as investor-interest. However, the release of new, liberalized Drone Rules in August 2021 along with the newly launched Performance-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Drone and Drone Component Manufacturers marks a break-through moment for the Indian Drone Industry. We are fortunate that our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Sh. Narendra Modi, and the Ministry of Civil Aviation have been able to quickly visualize the tremendous impact of drones on our country’s Economy and Employment opportunities at large.
The new rules, built on the premise of trust and self-monitoring, open avenues for large-scale adoption of drones across a multitude of industries, bolstering the drone service industry to achieve a size of over $5 billion in the next three years, along with a commensurate requirement of 100,000+ DGCA-certified drone pilots over the next three years. These pilots will have the opportunity to pursue careers in the field of Aerial Photography, Real Estate & Infra, Agriculture, Power, Oil & Gas, Rails & Roadways, Disaster Management, Logistics, Law Enforcement, Media & Journalism and many more.
With such a large landscape of drone-based applications, pilots will need a variety of skill sets to become industry-ready. India has an opportunity to take leader-board position in developing d-Talent (drone-Talent) much like we did while developing the IT talent for the world. World-class drone schools focussed on high-quality and standards, will enable creation of skilling and white-collar employment in not only urban areas but also in hinterland. An individual must only be 18 years of age and 10 th pass to become a DGCA-certified Drone Pilot. Owing to a significant chunk of drone-based projects in Semi-Urban and Rural India, the young men and women will have the opportunity to up-skill themselves as well as work close to their native place.
A prime example of one such opportunity is the SVAMITVA scheme, launched under the able leadership of our Prime Minister, wherein drone technology is being used to digitally map over 6.5 lakh villages in India, and distribute property cards to village household owners. Trained drone pilots in their respective districts will be able to execute such mapping operations and have access to jobs starting at Rs. 18,000 -25,000 per month or even pursue their own entrepreneurship journey. Moreover, drones will touch our daily lives much like mobile and internet did with visible benefits. The emergence and adoption of drone technology by the rest of the world will not only open large Export avenues for our Manufacturing sector but also help India position itself as the “Drone as a Service or D S” Capital, on similar lines to that of our prized export, “Software Services.” With our large pool of enthusiastic and educated Talent Pool, we can take Global Projects and offer turn-key solutions including Drones, Pilots, Services, Data analytics and Processing.
We are thankful to the Government of India for giving our industry a very open and congenial platform to voice our concerns and devise Industry-friendly policies. We hope to continue making gains and empower our rural and urban youth alike to truly make India, the Drone Hub of the World by 2030.
(The author is CEO, Drone Destination. Views expressed are personal and not necessarily that of Financial Express Online)