NEW DELHI: The $16.5-billion Mahindra Group is betting big on the government's initiative to build smart cities and has hailed the steps taken to liberalise foreign investments in the defence sector and complete long-pending procurements.
"Smart cities are a new thrust area for the group and it is an article of faith for us to make life more comfortable for urban residents," president of group strategy SP Shukla told ET, stressing that there is traction for the idea in states and the group is positioning its defence, real estate and IT arms ( Tech Mahindra) to gear up for smart city projects.
Shukla, who is also the chairman of the conglomerate's defence ventures and its innovation academy, said the government's move to delicense a majority of items in the defence production list and raise the FDI ceiling in the sector has put a 'spring in the industry's step'. The government's decision to sign off on critical defence procurements worth $13.1 billion last month - many of which were on hold for years - has also helped the industry. "There is a great positivity in the defence sector with all players quite excited with the changes, including foreign manufacturing collaborators and overseas governments," Shukla said.
Mahindra Defence Systems is executing a smart surveillance programme, the first-of-its-kind in India, for Uttar Pradesh Police in Lucknow. Once operational, it will allow the force to track developments across the city through real-time video feeds and automate enforcement actions such as penalizing violators of traffic norms.