Panel wants overhaul in DRDO’s set-up
Rajat Pandit, TNN Mar 19, 2007, 12.13am IST
NEW DELHI: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has taken yet another hit.
After being slammed for huge time and cost overruns in virtually all its projects, a parliamentary committee has now called for DRDO’s drastic overhaul if it’s to supply cutting-edge weapon systems to the armed forces in time.
And the “fundamental changes” must start at the very top. In its latest report tabled in Parliament on Friday, apart from recording Defence Research and Development Organisation’s “disappointing performance”, the Standing Committee on defence expressed its “displeasure”at the scientific advisor (SA) to the defence minister wearing so many hats.
In addition to being the SA, he is also director-general of DRDO, secretary (R&D) and director-general of Aeronautical Development Agency.
This must change, as also DRDO’s penchant for taking too many things on its plate. Venturing as it does even into making juices, mosquito repellents, titanium dental implants and the like, the committee said DRDO must concentrate only on “fundamental and crucial” defence research.
Urging the government to encourage the private sector to come into defence R&D and production in a major way, the committee said DRDO must be made more accountable and open to independent auditing.
A comprehensive national policy should also be formulated to recruit and retain “talented and experienced”scientists in Defence Research and Development Organisation, which has a shortage of around 1,400 scientists, as also promote its closer cooperation with IITs and universities.
Calls for a revamp of Defence Research and Development Organisation, of course, are not new. This newspaper, in several reports, has highlighted that it continues to flounder in developing desperately-needed military capabilities for the country.
Whether it’s the much-touted Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), sanctioned in 1983 but still at least four-five years away from becoming fully-operational, or the bulky Arjun main-battle tank, which the Army is being forced to swallow, the story has remained grim.
With the mind-boggling delays, the costs of most of Defence Research and Development Organisation projects have simply zoomed up. Take the LCA programme. Its initial projected cost was Rs 560 crore.
But now, it stands at Rs 5,490 crore, with another Rs 2,893 crore for its Kaveri engine. By the time the LCA becomes operational, if it does, over Rs 10,000 crore would have been sunk into it.
So, it’s no wonder that India has become the largest importer of military hardware and software in the developing world, notching up arms deals worth $11 billion in just 2004 and 2005.
It will spend another $30 billion over the next five years in armament imports. In view of all this, the parliamentary report expressed the “urgent need” for “a thorough review” of the functioning and organisational set-up of Defence Research and Development Organisation, which has 50 establishments and over 33,000 personnel under its umbrella.
Expressing dismay that DRDO had managed to achieve only 30% indigenisation target as against the 70% target set for the 10th Plan (2002-2007), the panel said the organisation has not been able to achieve its mission of self-reliance in defence production even 48 years after it was established.
Readers’ opinions (3)
asamanja ghose (paris)
19 Mar, 2007 02:16 PM
Dear Editor, Once again, the Parliamentary Committee should have gone much farther in its recommendations. We must institute a thorough judicial inquiry (independent of any and all administrative and political influence) as to why the LCA project and all other important Defence Projects have not yet been completed to date and resulted in such delays and heavy cost over-runs, while forcing the country to spend its meagre Foreign Exchange reserves to import military hardware. For instance, we are being forced to buy 126 Fighter Aircraft. If the LCA had been on time, this would not have been necessary, would it? In my opinion, military hardware-exporting countries and our corrupt politicians, corrupt political parties, and certainly some corrupt scientists in the DRDO are responsible for this state of affairs. They take bribes to design ways and means to delay our projects so as to continue exporting their outdated and “junk” products to India. How is it that no IT raids have ever been carried out on any of the above-mentioned categories of people, but only minor officials have been targeted, just for the form. Why have not the account books of the congress party not been seized and audited thoroughly after allegations that “thales”, the french manufacturer 0f the six diesel-electric submarines from whom india has ordered these, has paid sonia khan (sorry gandhi) a “bakshsish”‘ of 400 crores after the signing of this agreement. it is obvious that rajiv khan (sorry gandhi) did not have as big a stomach to digest the 64 crores that he had taken for the bofors deal and that he did share it with the congress party. Of course, the biggest “boffun” that the Bofors deal exposed was no one to do any thing with the congress, but the self-styled raja v.p. singh, who shouted himself hoarse before being elected prime minister saying that he will unveil the names of all the culprits of this international scandal, but once elected just forgot about it did nothing of the sort. Others like vajpaye and advani did not do much better. are we, as a nation, so cowardly that we are afraid of owning up to and take responsibility for our faults? if we aspire to be a superpower, should we behave like a bunch of sheep or tigers? Should we not start preparing for the day when we will have to tell the USA to get the hell out of the Indian Ocean, as that is our territory, and that they have nothing to do with that any more? Think over all this, dear reader. if these concepts seem too advanced for you, do contact me, i will explain. rest assured, it will be India that will the usa a bloody nose and make them eschew their haughtiness and misplaced sense of superiority. just ask yourself, what is that impostor, cheat and a plain highway robber be without his Indian software developers? What would the USA be without us Indians today? A. GHOSE
viswanath c (mumbai)
19 Mar, 2007 10:08 AM
Many organisations like DRDO are not at all performing well. The entire hierarchy needs to be revamped so that persons who can show results only can remain and exist there. In many cases, such Institutions does not allow youngsters to come forward and in desperation they leve the country. No need to make any hue and cry about depletion or loss of intellectual and technical personnel, let us do some homework to correct ourself!
balasubba raman guruswamy (bangalore)
19 Mar, 2007 08:18 AM
Internal nepotism is the bane of DRDO Labs. The best of brains are demotivated lot. It would be interesting if the ‘heads of the Labs’ are thoroughly investigated on the impact of their personal lives on the working of DRDO, over last 10 to 15 years.