Sunday, January 23, 2011

DRDO Chief's New Year Guidance

Chief of India's Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), Dr VK Saraswat, has addressed his scientists as part of the annual "letter to the ranks" exercise. Excerpts:
  • Technology transfer and stake holding during production, remains the responsibility of DRDO and we should not assume that our part is complete with prototype development. All the Lab Directors should put in place a dedicated team to look at production issues so that this is given its due importance and project teams must work, keeping in mind the final production scenario.
  • In an attempt to enhance synergistic interaction with Services, DRDO organised a series of technical interactions on futuristic weapons and technologies with scientists and Service personnel to bring in some consensus on the requirements of tomorrow, and we hope this initiative will bear fruit.
  • Government regulations have been simplified to bring in private industry by creating a level playing field along with DPSU’s. We all know that only the best will survive in this intensely competitive world. This calls for re-engineering the process of R&D and leveraging our knowledge base, skillsets, industry support, international collaborations and support by academia to develop systems in a timely fashion.
  • Technology development under project mode should have a well-defined and targeted end. Timely development will ensure that we attain a competitive edge in the market and our products do not become irrelevant.
  • I declare 2011 as the ‘Year of Creativity and Innovation’. I would like each cluster to launch at least two new programmes and each Lab to initiate development of two new futuristic technologies to dovetail into the existing cluster programmes.
In 2007, the Ministry of Defence ordered a committee to make recommendations for a comprehensive revamp of DRDO -- in effect, to save it from itself. Last month, almost three years after it received the report, this is what the Ministry told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence:
  • Independent Review Committee headed by Dr. P. Rama Rao had submitted its report to the Government on 5th March, 2008. The report was processed by the Committee headed by Defence Secretary to look into the responses and suggestions made by various stakeholders on the recommendations of Dr. P. Rama Rao Committee. The action on the implementation of the recommendations accepted by the Government is still under process which may take some more time. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence would be informed after implementation is completed."
Simple, huh? The government has little or no intention to revamp DRDO or make it more efficient/accountable. It has taken the MoD three years to study a report, (and this, after it refused to push through reform recommended in an earlier report by Dr Vijay Kelkar). What does that tell you? Carving an unwieldy, embarrassingly inefficient organisation into technology clusters with their own bosses serves ridiculously little apart from add another layer of red tape to an organisation that is positively crippled by it already. I'll be posting more shortly on how and why the MoD is putting off any substantive reform in DRDO. Dr Saraswat has some excellent ideas to jump start the organisation, but he risks making the same meaningless decisions of each one of his predecessors.


Anonymous said...

shame. we have talented scientists who deserve real leadership.

Anonymous said...

hi Shiv, can you pls focus on aero india..schedule of flying display of MMRCA fighters specially and tejas... i am planning to come all the way from Australia.. hopefully i see you there..

Anonymous said...

I can't begin to tell you how large the egos are of the heads of public sector undertakings and private sector corporations, not to mention the generals, admirals, and marshals! It will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for these guys to enter the gates of heaven. India is simply headed up by big-heads, and that is no exaggeration! Graft and corruption are so widespread in the public sector that technological advancement comes second or third in the pecking order.

Good luck, India, keep dreaming!

Anurag said...

No offence to DRDO but developing new should be the focus when you have nothing existing to achieve.We have so much to achieve in defence sector and probably lag at least 10-15 years to developed economies.So why not just develop what others have already developed.Plus what to develop new should come from armed forces as their requirement and not a decision of a scientist.

As far as revamp of DRDO is concerned,GOV should focus more on encouraging and providing opportunities to private players.This will automatically put more pressure on DRDO to be more competitive.And start this as soon as possible,may be with small scale projects(no need to go for futuristic weapons),so that private companies will develop capabilities that can later be utilized for future programs.

Anonymous said...

The armed forces think too much of themselves: If all new requirements and weapons systems were to come only from military people, neither dynamite nor the atom bomb would have appeared; there would have been no biological or chemical warfare (which are banned, now); the military did not request the airplane prior to 1903. The gung-ho military simply doesn't have the inventive brain power that scientists have the potential for.

Anonymous said...

Army goes shopping for howitzers, 25 years after Bofors deal

Ravinder said...

India is the only major country in the world, including totalitarian Russia (ex USSR) and China, that consolidates all defense under one organisation and all aircraft production and development under one company.

No wonder, India is an absolute lager in defence equipment development, design and production, largely because of corrupt politicians.

India will never achieve defense equipment self sufficiency unless it rids this sector from political and bureaucratic stranglehold

Anonymous said...

Let us hope that the new procurement policy results in lots of competition from the private sector. The Indian military industrial complex should focus on developing state of the art sub-systems. Once enough sub-systems are accepted by the users, platforms should be built as 'Technology Demonstrators'. The production versions should be taken up only if users place firm orders.

The users should be judged on the value of domestic equipments used by them in proportion to imported equipments. Otherwise they will have no stake in domestic developments.

Anonymous said...

@ Ravinder
Yes..wherever pvt sector has touched there has been progress....i suppose 2G shud be a perfect example of that

politicians are not taking money from thin air...both sides to be equally blamed....

Anonymous said...

The armed force personals show off does not connect well with the society, when every pin or part of a machinery is imported and there is all out support by from different quarters of procurement. It's a shame that the indian armed forces are myopic in their view of developmet of technology in India by Indians.

When the armed forces or babus or politicians are more interested in imports of technology for abroad, why is it that we civilians support foreign politicians, civil sevants and armed forces.
My views are not against the armed force personals or Babus or politicians, all I would like to see high technology projects related to defense in India by Indians.
I would like to see more Indians in developing key algorithms, components for key technology and not typing codes for analysed foreign projects at some MNC or x/y software indian co.