BHAVNA VIJ AURORA,ET Bureau | Aug 23, 2014, 12.19 PM IST – The Times of India
NEW DELHI: When defence minister Arun Jaitley commissions Indian Naval Ship Kamorta on Saturday in Vizag, it will be bereft of the critical mediumrange surface-to-air missile (SAM) and advanced light towed array sonars (ALTAS) — both of which Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has failed to deliver.
This is not the first failure for DRDO, the only body in the country doing research in the field of defence systems. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had commissioned INS Kolkata on August 16 in Mumbai.
Extremely unhappy about the state of affairs, Modi has put DRDO on notice. With the government approving 49% FDI in defence, the PM has asked the tardy organisation to shape-up in the face of competition from the private sector. Officials in the security setup of the country told ET that Modi has asked the defence minister to conduct a detailed review of the organisation, and if need be come out with a white paper on it.
Modi personally delivered a stern message to DRDO, asking the officers to give up their “chalta hai” (lackadaisical) attitude, during the annual award ceremony of the organisation on August 20. The PM had started the DRDO clean-up project even before he attended the award function. He ordered scrapping of a committee that was reviewing cases to grant extension of service to scientists, who had superannuated. The committee sent its recommendations to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
As many as 15 top scientists of DRDO, including Director General (DG) Avinash Chander, are on extension. Chander, in fact, is now on contract after two extensions. Incidentally, he holds three posts — Secretary (Defence) R&D, DG (DRDO) and Scientific Advisor to the defence minister. It was the previous ACC, under the UPA government, comprising Manmohan Singh, AK Antony and Sushil Kumar Shinde that had granted him extensions and finally appointed him on contract in November 2013. About six to eight people were believed to be getting extensions each year in DRDO.
“The PM was not happy about it. As per a department of personnel and training (DoPT) ruling, only the best scientists of international stature should be considered for extensions. He asked for all the details. He was told about the high attrition rate among the younger scientists,” disclosed a senior defence ministry official.
The review committee, scrapped by the government, comprised secretaries of Department of Atomic Energy, DRDO and ISRO as members. Modi is believed to have said that the secretaries of the same departments could not review extensions of their own personnel. He has now constituted the committee to include the Cabinet Secretary and secretaries of unrelated departments of science and technology and earth sciences.
“It is to weed out the dead wood that Modi made the announcement about employing only young scientists, not over the age of 35, in five of the 52 DRDO labs. It is a beginning and will send the message to everyone working in DRDO to deliver,” explained the defence ministry official.
DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta could not be contacted for a comment.