Since its inception, DRDO formulated a task which was to assist three services in their day to day technical requirements. Dr. Daulat Singh Kothari the First Scientific Adviser to RM followed by Prof. Suri Bhagavantham and Dr. Basanti Dulal Nagchaudhuri laid the foundation to strengthened the three services with technical backup. The then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi provided all out support to R&D organisation. The missile program, the explosive research, the communication research and including acoustic were facilitated. Based on the foundation the charter duties were laid such that there won’t be duplication of work. There was honesty in the system, the greed was the lowest level, and people respected their jobs, worked hard, tandem with service officers. There was a mutually agreed, unwritten accountability. This was continued till Dr. Raja Ramanna was Scientific Adviser to RM.
When Dr.Vallampadugai Srinivasaraghavan Arunachalam took over charge of Scientific Adviser to RM, being Shanti Swaroop Bhatnager awardee, he gave a new direction to accelerate the research activity, so as to put Indian defence in forefront of self reliance. However, his long tenure as Scientific Adviser to RM will remembered as the period of “Infrastructure Development” , acquisition of plenty land(unused available in prime locations), building constructions(thousands square feet covered area now unutilized standing with most of the labs and one of the major source of siphoning money in the name of maintenance) , recruitment of huge manpower (low quality via RAC) and proposition of major programs( Arjun Tank, IGMDP, LCA etc) were the key features.
Due to his close proximity with power corridor of the government, he had the blessing of holding absolute power as a result absolute corruption piped in to DRDO corridor.
Estate Management Unit (EMU), DRDO took over from Military Engineering Services (MES) for all major infrastructure development activities. Money started flowing in DRDO corridors, and scientific community also started developing a taste for money flow.
Now aim and objectives of top DRDO force start detourting, under major programs scientists/technologist stopped reinventing the wheel and started importing the items and derailed process of learning in various stages of development. The aim to develop import substitute left in the background and proving the concept came into the forefront by importing the obsolete technology mainly from Russia, Israel, USA, etc.
All the develop countries took minimum 15 years of time from the concept to prototype development, to user trials, to production of the equipment/systems. When output fails in user trails, DRDO authority gave a plea that “we are 100 crores people and nobody can attack on us”.
1999 Kargil war however exposed our systematic approach of development, questioned our efforts in strengthening the national defence. The infighting started in between R&D organisation, each national lab blamed each other for their incompetence. The gadria moving goats identified the intruders but our over surveillance systems failed to identify the barracks developed by intruders at LOC.
The subsequent Scientific Adviser to RM Dr. Vasudev Kalkunte Aatre, when assumed the charge stated to media that “in ten years we have not developed any products”. Unfortunately he was number-2 in DRDO for the last ten years. Then who did he blame.
In today’s scenario as far as product from DRDO is concerned we are no where except the demonstration capabilities to the user.
We have imported AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System), BFSR (Battle Field Surveillance Radar), Sea Skimmer Missiles and Land Mine Detectors. Who will analyze for this deterioration of R&D scenario. Crores and crores are spent on salaries, infrastructures developments, TA/DA for attending marriages, transport allowances, even though government transport are used.
Today the 52 labs of DRDO do not even have 52 products (each lab one end product)
Who is to blamed for this deterioration of premier R&D organisation?