Only 50% indigenous and on the drawing board in any real sense since 1972.......40 years!
The scientists should be fired, before they retire.
Looking to breathe life into DRDO, govt splits top post
With the Modi government keen to build a strong defence-industrial base in tune with the 'Make in India' policy, the stage has now been set for revival of the country's moribund defence R&D establishment by the appointment of two relatively younger scientists at the helm of affairs.
. The government is quite miffed with the lackadaisical functioning of DRDO, often in the dock for its failure to deliver cutting-edge weaponry without huge time and cost overruns, with PM Narendra Modi himself warning the organisation to fast shed its "Chalta Hai" attitude.
But only time will tell whether S Christopher (59), the new DRDO chief, and G Satheesh Reddy (51), the new scientific advisor to the defence minister, can undertake the kind of drastic surgery that is needed to revive DRDO and its 52 labs spread across the country. India, after all, still continues to import 65% of its military hardware and software.
Officials say Reddy's appointment in the MoD, by splitting the SA-cum-DRDO chief post, will provide an "independent mechanism" to review and scrutinise DRDO's functioning. Till now, the same scientist wore the two hats.
"More changes are on the anvil. They could include a new Defence Technology Commission and a commercial arm for DRDO, as was recommended by the Rama Rao Committee (RRC)," said an official.
"There is a big thrust on Make in India, which will include greater private sector participation as production agencies or lead integrators for technologies developed by DRDO," he added.
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As earlier reported by TOI, the RRC in 2008 held DRDO should focus only on 8 to 10 "critical technologies" of "strategic importance". But many of its recommendations have been implemented half-heartedly, with DRDO still continuing to make everything from dental implants and mosquito repellents to nuclear missiles and fighter jets.
Modi's advice in August last year that at least five DRDO labs should be headed by scientists under the age of 35 to reinvigorate the organisation is also yet to be acted upon. Though DRDO scientists are supposed to retire at 60, many were routinely getting two-year extensions till now.
"Four of the seven cluster heads or DGs in DRDO are currently on extension after retirement, as are most of the 'distinguished scientists'. They believe in status-quo and are risk-averse. Consequently, many young scientists get frustrated, adding to the already severe brain-drain," said a scientist.
DRDO, of course, also gets a measly 6% of the overall defence budget when it's 12% in the US and 20% in China. Apart from the brain-drain and failure to attract bright young scientists from top-rung institutes, the DRDO has also suffered from a virtual freeze in the enhancement of scientific manpower for over a decade. It has asked for sanctions to recruit around 300 young scientists every year, instead of the 70-80 inducted at present.