Saturday, 30 May 2015

In a first, defence minister gets his own tech advisor

The new DRDO chief, Dr S Christopher (above); and Scientific Advisor to the Raksha Mantri, Dr G Satheesh Reddy (left)

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 30th May 2015

In the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s first substantive move to galvanise the indigenous design and development of high-technology military systems, it has appointed on Thursday evening an unusually young, 52-year-old scientist, Dr G Satheesh Reddy as scientific advisor to the Raksha Mantri (SA to RM).

At the same time, Dr S Christopher was appointed to the post of Director General, DRDO (DG DRDO), and concurrently to the post of Secretary (Defence R&D).

This is the first time the government has, bifurcated these three posts, which have all been held by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) chief. In so doing, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has provided for himself a dedicated personal advisor on issues relating to technology.

“This is a good measure. When the DRDO recommends something, the defence minister will now have an advisor who can independently explain to him the pros and cons”, says a former DRDO chief, speaking anonymously.

DRDO scientists that Business Standard spoke to have expressed happiness at the bold selection of Reddy as SA to RM, even though he is the youngest of the DRDO’s twelve “distinguished scientists”, the senior most scientists’ grade.

“Reddy is not just a top technologist, but is also in touch with the younger DRDO scientists. This gives him a great perspective on issues relating to the organisation,” says a mid-ranking DRDO officer.

The new DRDO chief, Christopher, also brings to the office an impressive record of success. Currently heading the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) in Bengaluru, Christopher has spent the last decade masterminding the project to develop an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system for the Indian Air Force (IAF). So far, India has been importing such systems.

The AEW&C consists of an airborne radar mounted externally on an Embraer executive jet. Currently at an advanced stage of testing, it will be used in wartime to monitor airspace and control the aerial battle, allowing air force controllers to digitally directing IAF aircraft against enemy aircraft that they detect.

Christopher, who is just short of 60 years, has been appointed for a period of two years to his two positions. Reddy has also been appointed SA to RM for two years, which positions him to be appointed DRDO chief after Christopher retires.

Christopher’s office in DRDO Bhavan has been vacant since February 1, when his predecessor, Avinash Chander, retired. Chander had been granted an 18-month extension on November 28, to head the DRDO till May 31, 2016. However that extension was withdrawn with effect from January 31.

While Christopher walks into an empty office, Reddy will have to create office infrastructure and a staff for himself. So far, the SA to RM has operated from DRDO Bhavan; now he will operate from an independent office in South Block.

The DRDO’s new chief faces significant challenges, given the “Make in India” rubric of the NDA government. Key projects with the DRDO include the Tejas Mark II fighter, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun system, the Arjun Mark II tank, the Advanced Technology Vessel (nuclear submarine) and the AEW&C project.

The DRDO is also under pressure to restructure and become more task oriented, with recommendations still to be implemented from the Rama Rao Committee report. 


Anonymous said...

Make in India means welcoming foreign companies to manufacture in India. If the same is done by Indian companies, then it is "Made in India".

So, DRDO, a pure research and development organization has got little to do with "Make in India".

If this current Govt was serious about "make in India", then it would have liberalized the labor laws and other laws related to 'ease of doing business' in India. We are seeing very little movement in this regard. What we are seeing instead is the current govt's desperation to destroy the state owned military industrial complex setup at great cost to public exchequer to favor shady Indian Pvt companies who will route kickbacks received from arms imports under the guise of "make in India". This is the very reason why even after a year, not even one decent company has invested in India under this scheme. We also see the current dispensation's desperation to gag whoever doesn't toes it's line .... Action against NGOs, Stopping someone from going abroad, banning student bodies critical of the Govt are few such examples.
Modi sarkar is increasingly looking like a combo of UPA3 and Nazi Germany.

Anonymous said...

With split up of 1 post modi government has created 3 jobs. Thats innovative. Increase usage of human input towards a particular activity at the same time reducing the burden on single person. Creatvity and productivity will increase leaps and bounds. During the UPA regime investor confidence was shaken. When birds comes to roost it will come one by one and when threatened all will fly out. So are the investors.

Anonymous said...

Hope some good sense prevails and govt stops rubishing DRDO and HAL.

Anonymous said...

Private house will only make in india the name plate. Rest all to come from their foreign partners. The day official order or contract is over they will not look at. IAF is used to free services of HAL for their most vintage aircraft. First IAF forces us to build life beyond oem given life. And then any problem is called PWR and blame passed to HAL