Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finally, Govt Orders Full Revamp Of DRDO, Formally Sanctions Mark-II Versions Of MBT Arjun & Akash SAM

More than three years after the Indian Express special series on the woeful state of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) by me and Express senior editor Amitav Ranjan, the government has finally managed to order a comprehensive restructuring plan for the beleaguered organization with immediate effect. It was our 8-part special front-page series, titled Delayed Research Derailed Organisation in late 2006 which set the ball rolling. For starters, it compelled the government to set up a committee in February 2007, chaired by Former Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Dr. P Rama Rao to review and suggest measures to improve the functioning of DRDO. After years of stiff resistance from some quarters in DRDO, the revamp plan has finally been pushed through.

A statement from the MoD today said, "To give a major boost to Defence Research in the country and to ensure effective participation of the private sector in Defence technology, the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony today approved a series of measures that will transform and revitalise the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) – in form and substance."

According to the statement, the key measures include the establishment of a Defence Technology Commission with the Defence Minister as its Chairman, de-centralisation of DRDO management, making DRDO a leaner organisation by merging some DRDO laboratories with other public funded institutions with similar disciplines, interest and administrative system, engagement of an eminent Human Resource (HR) expert as consultant to revamp the entire HR structure of DRDO and establishment of a commercial arm of DRDO.

Significantly, the decisions also include continuation of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for design and development of combat aircraft, continuation of the Kaveri aero-engine programme, development of MBT Arjun Mk-II and Akash Mk-II by DRDO and selection of industry partners by DRDO through a transparent process by evolving a suitable mechanism.

The recommendations of the Rama Rao Committee together with DRDO's views and the report were extensively deliberated upon by the three Services and the Defence Ministry. The Defence Minister Shri Antony had subsequently constituted a committee on June 25, 2009 under the Chairmanship of the Defence Secretary, to consider the responses and the suggestions made by various stakeholders on the recommendations of the Rama Rao Committee and to arrive at a set of acceptable recommendations. The committee chaired by the Defence Secretary met on five occasions and gave its recommendations to the Defence Minister.

Decentralisation of DRDO Management

The decentralisation of DRDO management will be achieved through formation of technology domain based centres or clusters of laboratories headed by Directors General. Seven centres will be created based on functionalities and technology domains. It will be the responsibility of the Directors General to ensure timely execution of major programmes and encouragement of research in laboratories. DRDO will also ensure full autonomy to all laboratories as far as S&T initiatives are concerned. While empowering the Directors of the laboratories, DRDO will put in a mechanism in place to ensure the accountability of the laboratory Directors.

Leaner DRDO

One of the major recommendations of the Rama Rao Committee was to make DRDO leaner by merging some of its laboratories with other public funded institutions have similar discipline, interests and administrative systems. Some of these ecommendations of the Committee have been accepted by the Defence Minister.

Restructuring of DRDO

The present Director General of DRDO will be redesignated as Chairman, DRDO. Directors General at centres and CCsR&D at Headquarters will report to Chairman, DRDO, who would be the head of the organisation. The Chairman will head the DRDO Management Council having seven Directors General and four CCsR&D at Headquarters and Additional Financial Advisor (R&D) as members. Financial Advisors at the appropriate levels would report to Directors General / Lab Directors to ensure accountability.

Revamping of DRDO's HR Structure

DRDO will now hire an eminent HR expert as Consultant to revamp the whole HR structure. The Consultant will be entrusted with the task to examine issues such as selection and tenure of Directors and avenues for the induction of talented persons, independently spotted by the Lab Directors and the heads of centres, including filling up of wastage vacancies.

Commercial Arm of DRDO

A new Commercial Arm of DRDO would be created by DRDO as a Private Limited Company with a seed capital of about Rs. 2 crores. The commercial arm would deal only with the spin-off products and technologies meant for civilian use. It will not take up any manufacturing activity. For any production activity the services of public or private sector industry will be utilised.


Chandan said...

Good news and a step forward....

Rohith.S said...

Finally some good news. Just hope that reforms are carried out properly

Anonymous said...

What leverage if any will the armed forces have over the restructured DRDO? Isnt Akash 2 going to clash with Barak 8 program?

pavan said...

I doubt whether this will ever be implemented going by the track record of our MOD

Rudra said...


When do you think this restructuring program would be finished?

Also, please post the Akash MKII details.

Anonymous said...

Great news!! Seems like things are heading in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Ah.. Shiv Aroor. Article in 2006 in Indian Express getting the ball rolling indeed. How convenient to overlook the discussions in Bharat Rakshak on the problems with DRDO and the debates on the forums there.

Well, I do agree that your IE article took it to a far wider "lay" audience beyond an niche, albeit knowledgeable set of people who are keenly followed in these matters helping bring this into wider notice. While claiming credit, maybe you should acknowledge the role of others as well and also refer to the Rama Rao commission that predated your article.

Shiv Aroor said...

@anon: actually, the Rama Rao Committee was constituted in Feb 2007, three months after the express series. it did not predate the series.

joydeep ghosh said...

@ Shiv

Thnx 4r the great news.

This will finally put to rest all chatters about Arjun MBT and Akash SAM being a failed project.

Just specify when will these recommendations bear fruit.

PS: please respond to querries put up for answers.

AK said...

A belated but a step in the correct direction. However, Mr. Antony needs to ensure that private industry participation is raised much to a higher level and government DPSU monopoly is broken forever. We cannot have the lazy DPSU's importing SKDs from foreign locations and assembling them as Made in India. We still import trucks, planes, missiles, mortars, rifles, submarine, clothing and everything under the Sun. Compare that to China who has managed to cut the imports by a whooping margin. God speed!

Arun said...

Good job. I wish other journalists would step up and do similar things, in India and here in the US. While corruption is the biggest issue there, political posturing is a big issue here. It would be amazing if there was a truly independent but prudent media.

Anonymous said...

C'mon DRDO start running,you are too late and derailed too...

Anonymous said...

Finally they start doing what they should have done long ago

Anonymous said...

"Commercial Arm of DRDO

A new Commercial Arm of DRDO would be created by DRDO as a Private Limited Company with a seed capital of about Rs. 2 crores. The commercial arm would deal only with the spin-off products and technologies meant for civilian use. It will not take up any manufacturing activity. For any production activity the services of public or private sector industry will be utilised."

^ Now that is the trump card


NJS said...

Mark 2 version for both Akash & Arjun is a must for indian defense , but need to do within deadline time frame . Arjun mk1 already successfully crossed many decades , so all we need is atleast medium fastrack movement for Arjun mk2 project .

Sachin Kanaujia said...

"Continuation of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for design and development of combat aircraft" ?

Means MCA or LCa

Anonymous said...

What about the Arjun Engine and transmission? Will that be indigenised in MK 2?

Some comments suggest that DRDO...all it does is align with foreign vendors and manufacture locally. That is what the private sector does...NOT DRDO - and at phenomenal costs. The two systems going onto MK 2 are the great success stories of not only DRDO but India...the missiles, Tejas...and so on...Good Luck and Godspeed...India!

Let us be factual and fair...also altruistic in military defence matters. These are issues of grave national importance...our supreme national survival.

What are the great private sector accomplishments? Mahindra and Mahindra is signing JV's all over the global map and will sell low quality Indian sourced products...inferior to what Indian suppliers can make...with a foreign design and name. DRDO can do that at a fractional cost.

I believe in not a public to private sector acrimony but a sharing of tasks in an optimal and cost-effective manner to increase and hasten the military manufacturing base, output, efficiency. It is absolutely necessary.

We all need to pool in and minimize ideological, time consuming debates. An environment of contructive criticism and consensus is necessary.

No one wins or loses all the time. God Bless all of us! Godspeed!

Anonymous said...

There's nothing going to happen so long as there's little accountability from DRDO's side to the end users,i.e.the armed forces.Many a time,the army,navy and IAF are focred to take substandard DRDO equipment just for the sake of indigenisation.Having interacted closely with DRDO,the scientists there barring a few exceptionally dedicated ones,just want to leave and join private sector.They know that there's no accountability and hence do a shoddy work.They also play to the gallery when it comes to highlighting their acheivements.If we are to increase the efficieny,the DRDO should be under the forces as is the case in US and Russia.

Marcus said...

they will use this re-structuring as an execuse for more delays :-).

I know why DODO cannot get Arjun right...can you imagine integrating so many components from so many different vendors. Give them another 10years and you might get something....but then again thats not really an issue. Its not as if IA is facing some super duper tanks either. In fact tank is becoming a nice target for thousands of anti-tank missiles being aquired by india's foes....and many of them are pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shiv,
I'm an avid follower of ur blog and wud like to congratulate u for ur efforts on ur report on DRDO and this blog in general.
There is, however, a suggestion (I cud be wrong) ...
quoting from ur post: "by me and Express senior editor Amitav Ranjan"
Citing your name before others' for credits over a collaborative piece of work (no matter how much actually was contributed by other person) dosent look very Modest.
The competetion among newsmen these days to be the *first* to report something perhaps has left these minor details somewhere in the shadow....
Sry for deviating from the topic but its just an honest observation


Anonymous said...

actually getting the DRDO labs to bring in accountability is very important. The labs get away with almost anything in the name of secrecy. RTI should be allowed in all labs.

Anonymous said...

there is nothing but tokenism and nothing has percolated down the rank and file. Instead of making DRDO a lean and young organisation they have made it an OLD and weak organisation by extending the retirement age selectively choosing the hypocrites and retiring the knowledgable and simple but true scientists Extending projects to ADA means no change in thought for failed projects and no revamp at all