By Aman Sharma, ET Bureau | 27 Sep, 2014,
NEW DELHI: In a message to the Defence Research Development Organisation that has over a dozen scientists working on tenures beyond 60, the government has frowned at the tendency of giving extensions to scientists without consulting the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be unhappy with DRDO’s functioning and had recently advocated that five out of the 52 DRDO labs be manned by young scientists after reports with the government revealed that as many as 358 scientists had quit DRDO between 2009 and 2013.
A government note sent on Friday to nine ministries and departments which have specialists in scientific or medical fields, including DRDO and Department of Space, the Department of Personnel and Training has said that the ACC headed by the prime minister has observed that in some cases, departments have unilaterally extended the service officers beyond the age of superannuation without obtaining the approval of ACC.
“It is reiterated that in absence of specific approval of ACC towards extension of services beyond the date of superannuation, an officer should stand retired on his date of superannuation and under no circumstances should the Ministry/Department extend his services beyond superannuation unilaterally without approval of ACC,” the note says. This also comes on the heels of the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission where Modi had praised scientists at ISRO for the feat.
In Friday’s note, the policy drawn up by the NDA government in 2002 was pointed to, which said that any tenure extensions to scientists should be “only in really exceptional circumstances” and only if the retiring specialist “is not just one of the outstanding officers but is really head and shoulders above the rest”.
That policy also said that too many cases of extensions are likely to cause “frustration and affect morale of upcoming scientists who have exposure to latest technological developments.” In 2012, DRDO admitted that 37 scientists — 12 of whom were in distinguished category — were on extended tenures. This was despite the Rama Rao Committee, which carried out the first external review of DRDO in 2008, calling for a younger profile of top scientists. DRDO secretary Avinash Chander is also working on an extension.
ET had reported on August 23 that Modi was not happy about this situation and had sought all details after he was told about the high attrition rate among younger scientists. Friday’s note also goes out to the departments of Atomic Energy, Science and Technology, Scientific and Industrial Research, Information Technology and Environment Ministry.