DRDO's "approach to technology"

I'm really looking forward to my friend and colleague Ajai Shukla's multipart series on DRDO's approach to technology, which began today in Business Standard. DRDO reveals to Ajai in his first interaction with the chief controllers that the most significant change being made in the workings of DRDO is the introduction of an institutionalised forum titled "Services Interaction Group" (or SIG, which it will inevitably become).

Did I miss something here? Are the folks at DRDO telling us that after a half-century of existence, it's suddenly occured to them that they don't have an institutionalised forum to talk with their principal customers?!! Wait, there's more. Here's what DRDO says the SIG will actually do: "DRDO will work hand-in-hand with the military to identify the technologies, and weapons systems, which the DRDO laboratories must develop." (Wait, let me get this clear, did you say "hand-in-hand"? Amazing!)

I don't know why -- and it's partly a matter of cynicism really -- but every time DRDO tries to slip in these earnest declarations, nobody ever asks the tough questions. Apologists for mediocrity (there are whole communities of those right here on the internet) will reluctantly accept that this is a positive renaissance for the organisation. But what irks the living cr!p out of me is how DRDO makes it sound like they're doing something somehow noble, or pro-active by making these decisions 50 years too late.

Think about it for a second -- a forum for the organisation to interact with the armed forces. Even a cretin would imagine that would have been a priority when the organisation was set up, or at least a priority somewhere along the line. To realise a half-century later that you're somehow not speaking the same language as the guy who you work for, is somehow beyond the surreal. It's downright criminal.

With its recent successes -- and they are welcome, indeed -- DRDO somehow imagines it can erase accountability for its past goofs, mismanagement and incompetence, by somehow projecting a cosmetically new face, a new corporate approach to things, a well-polished publicity machinery and a friendly face. Tough. There's a long way yet. And a good start would be a measure of sincerity about the P Rama Rao committee's recommendations. Last heard, the level of opposition and lobbying by DRDO honchos in the MoD against the committee's observations, has reached hysterical proportions. That's precisely what I mean: Don't deal with the problem. Kill the fellows telling you how to solve them.

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