By Pradip R Sagar | Express News Service | Published: 09th October 2016
NEW DELHI: During his first interaction with the DRDO scientists, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had conveyed a stern message to them — “Shed this ‘chalta hai’ attitude.”
However, it seems that things have plunged to a new low.
At a conference, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) asked a canteen boy to give a presentation on ‘border security’ because the scientists who were supposed to hold the session didn’t turn up.
There’s more to the story. In the absence of experts, and to make up numbers, the DRDO sent peons, drivers, mechanics, storekeepers and other non-technical staff to attend the conference.
“We didn’t have suitable candidates to represent us, so some laboratories sent administrative and non-technical staff, including Class-4 employees to fill in the chairs,” said a DRDO official.
Quoting a senior official, an insider told Express, “I was told, ‘let them (peons, drivers, store attendants, canteen boys) also enjoy and have a picnic.’”
The conference, which was regarding the DRDO’s contribution in managing border security in the Himalayan region, was held on Thursday and Friday.
It was organised by the DRDO’s Uttarakhand-based Defence Institute of Bio-energy Research (DIBER), which is engaged in research in the first of bio-energy and non- conventional energy for defence forces. Six key laboratories were asked to send their representatives to participate in the conference.
The idea behind the two-day conference titled ‘Vaigyanik Evam Takniki Sanghoshti’ was to promote use of Hindi language.
Sources claim that since the conference was organised in Pithoragarh district (Uttarakhand), which is close to the China border, many senior scientists expressed their unwillingness to travel 600 km in the hilly terrain and cited “ill health” or “personal” reasons for saying “no”.
The institutes which sent their representatives included Institute of Technology Management (Mussoorie), Defence Electronics Application Laboratory (Dehradun), Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (Chandigarh) and Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (Chandigarh) and DIBER. The DRDO has often faced criticism for its tardy performance, resulting in more than 70 per cent dependence of India’s armed forces on foreign players.