Split in experts’ roles angers DRDO fraternity
The decision in India to separate the roles of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief and the scientific advisor to the Defence Minister has not gone down well among scientists in the organization although the appointment of a director-general to the top defense research establishment after remaining rudderless for three months, has come as a major relief.
Recently, S. Christopher, director of the Centre for Airborne Systems was appointed as the secretary of Department of Defence Research and Development as well as director- general of DRDO while G. Satheesh Reddy, director of the Research Centre Imarat (RCI) was appointed as the scientific advisor to the Defence Minister.
Earlier, Avinash Chander had held all three posts — scientific advisor, DRDO chief and secretary of Department of Defence Research and Development as did his predecessors before the government asked him to step down on Jan. 31. Although the decision to groom young talent for the posts instead of handing out extensions has been welcomed, scientists, both in-service and retired, voiced their apprehension about the delinking of the posts.
“It is not clear how Dr. Reddy will serve as the scientific advisor to the defense minister since he would not have any role in DRDO. The organization is supposed to provide logistics support to him but there are apprehensions about the effectiveness of the new system,” said a scientist in one of the laboratories of DRDO.
A retired director also agreed saying: “There is apprehension that this post just might be ornamental with the real powers vested somewhere else. For quite some time, bureaucracy has tried to wield more power in deciding these issues and for once they seem to have succeeded.” He added that Dr. Reddy, the youngest among those in the race and someone who had a key role in developing navigation systems will be sorely missed in DRDO’s premier laboratory, RCI given his expertise in this field.
Besides other key defense programs Dr. Reddy led the successful development of the 1000 kilogram-class guided bomb. As Director RCI, he led the development of avionics technologies in critical areas of inertial systems, embedded computers, control, seekers, antennae, flight instru- mentation for various missile programs such as Agni A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, Prithvi, Dhanush, Astra, Akash, underwater missiles, BrahMos, Nirbhay, Helina, Nag, MRSAM, Programme AD - PDV interceptor, Two-stage Ship Launched Target, to name a few. However, a few are hopeful that Dr. Reddy may be groomed for a greater role in future.
Both S. Christopher and G. Satheesh Reddy have been appointed for two years for their respective posts and the Defence Ministry under dynamic Manohar Parikkar is apparently planning a new avatar for DRDO. The ball had started rolling after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had drawn attention to the long- drawn research projects of DRDO which often defeat the very purpose for which they were taken up.