Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) was established at Bangalore, India, by the Government of India under the Ministry of Defence in 1954 to meet the specialised electronic needs of the Indian defence services. Over the years, it has grown into a multi-product, multi-technology, multi-unit company servicing the needs of customers in diverse fields in India and abroad.
BEL is among an elite group of public sector undertakings which have been conferred the Navratna status by the Government of India.
The growth and diversification of BEL over the years mirrors the advances in the electronics technology, with which BEL has kept pace. Starting with the manufacture of a few communication equipment in 1956, BEL went on to produce Receiving Valves in 1961, Germanium Semiconductors in 1962 and Radio Transmitters for AIR in 1964.
In 1966, BEL set up a Radar manufacturing facility for the Army and in-house R&D, which has been nurtured over the years. Manufacture of Transmitting Tubes, Silicon Devices and Integrated Circuits started in 1967. The PCB manufacturing facility was established in 1968.
In 1970, manufacture of Black & White TV Picture Tube, X-ray Tube and Microwave Tubes started. The following year, facilities for manufacture of Integrated Circuits and Hybrid Micro Circuits were set up. 1972 saw BEL manufacturing TV Transmitters for Doordarshan. The following year, manufacture of Frigate Radars for the Navy began.
Under the government's policy of decentralization and due to strategic reasons, BEL ventured to set up new Units at various places. The second Unit of BEL was set up at Ghaziabad in 1974 to manufacture Radars and Tropo communication equipment for the Indian Air Force. The third Unit was established at Pune in 1979 to manufacture Image Converter and Image Intensifier Tubes. In 1980, BEL's first overseas office was set up at New York for procurement of components and materials.
In 1981, a manufacturing facility for Magnesium Manganese Dioxide batteries was set up at the Pune Unit. The Space Electronic Division was set up at Bangalore to support the satellite programme in 1982. The same year saw BEL achieve a turnover of Rs.100 crores.
In 1983, an ailing Andhra Scientific Company (ASCO) was taken over by BEL as the fourth manufacturing Unit at Machilipatnam. In 1985, the fifth Unit was set up in Chennai for supply of Tank Electronics, with proximity to HVF, Avadi. The sixth Unit was set up at Panchkula the same year to manufacture Military Communication equipment. 1985 also saw BEL manufacturing on a large scale Low Power TV Transmitters and TVROs for the expansion of Doordarshan's coverage.
1986 witnessed the setting up of the seventh Unit at Kotdwara to manufacture Switching Equipment, the eighth Unit to manufacture TV Glass Shell at Taloja (Navi Mumbai) and the ninth Unit at Hyderabad to manufacture Electronic Warfare Equipment.
In 1987, a separate Naval Equipment Division was set up at Bangalore to give greater focus to Naval projects. The first Central Research Laboratory was established at Bangalore in 1988 to focus on futuristic R&D.
1989 saw the manufacture of Telecom Switching and Transmission Systems as also the setting up of the Mass Manufacturing Facility in Bangalore and the manufacture of the first batch of 75,000 Electronic Voting Machines.
The agreement for setting up BEL's first Joint Venture Company, BE DELFT, with M/s Delft of Holland was signed in 1990. Recently this became a subsidiary of BEL with the exit of the foreign partner and has been renamed BEL Optronic Devices Limited.
The second Central Research Laboratory was established at Ghaziabad in 1992. The first disinvestment (20%) and listing of the Company's shares in Bangalore and Mumbai Stock Exchanges took place the same year.
TBEL Units obtained ISO 9000 certification in 1993-94. The second disinvestment (4.14%) took place in 1994. In 1996, BEL achieved Rs.1,000 crores turnover.
In 1997, GE BEL, the Joint Venture Company with M/s GE, USA, was formed. In 1998, BEL set up its second overseas office at Singapore to source components from South East Asia.
The year 2000 saw the Bangalore Unit, which had grown very large, being reorganized into Strategic Business Units (SBUs). There are now nine SBUs in Bangalore Unit. The same year, BEL shares were listed in the National Stock Exchange.
In 2002, BEL became the first defence PSU to get operational Mini Ratna Category I status. In June 2007, BEL was conferred the prestigious Navratna status based on its consistent performance.