The Secret World of DRDO

Posted: September 2, 2012 in Education, Geopolitics, Politics, Youths and Nation


India is at war. Tejas fighters wheel over a smoke dark battleground, taking down enemy aircraft with their superior radar and missile capabilities. Lower still, Indian-designed helicopters are giving hell to enemy armour and troop formations with missiles and machine-gun fire. On the ground, mighty Arjun tanks lumber slowly across dunes, sure of their inpenetrable Kancha

n armour even as they spew death through their 120 mm guns. Jawans crouch and advance with the tanks, firing three-round bursts from their INSAS rifles and lobbing bhut jholokia grenades at their foes. They are tireless, having imbibed performance-enhancing pills, and well-fed, having had spoil-proof parathas and self-heated packaged meals before battle.

This is what a DRDO dream looks like. However, a nightmare was revealed recently when Defence Minister A K Antony ordered the Comptroller General of Defence Audit (CGDA) to do a secret audit of India’s equivalent of the futuristic workshop of James Bond’s ‘Q’ — the Defence Research and Development Organisation that goes by the handle DRDO.

The highlights of the report are frightening. Here are some of them:

* DRDO has been developing equipment which is either sub-standard or have extended deadlines and additional budgets;

* Many of the projects have been sanctioned without the requisite government approval. Only 10 per cent of projects have come to the ministry for clearance;

* Corruption and nepotism exists in the upper echelons;

* There is an exodus of qualified scientists;

DRDO has challenged the findings but the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken cognisance of them. It will be ordering a review of the agency’s approval processes as well as that of the recent proposal to enhance the financial powers for DRDO chief V K Saraswat.

The CGDA report criticised the ‘joint development’ technology initiative of DRDO, calling it “import of older, foreign technology under the disguise of joint development.” The CGDA accused DRDO of promoting Israeli company M/S SCD without the mandatory formal transfer of technology agreement. Commenting on a DRDO deal to develop a higher format uncooled detector, the CGDA said: “DRDO shall be financing the development expenditure of `19.90 crore by releasing it direct to M/S SCD Israel.

Basically, instead of doing development itself, DRDO is funding a foreign agency’s development effort, that too, without any explicit arrangements being finalised about ownership of intellectual property generated from such financing,” noted the CGDA. “Neither the production agency nor the users — mechanised forces of army — have been kept in the loop,” the CGDA report says.

With a chaotic record of arms experiments and eccentric choices of spending money on pickles and automated idli and dosa makers for aircraft carriers, the very reason for DRDO’s existence seems dubious. Says V K Mittal, a former senior scientist with the agency, “DRDO technology is almost two decades old.

Two projects, namely Samyukta and Sangraha electronic warfare equipment, were partially inducted in the armed forces, but users felt these were outdated and more expensive than the latest technology available.”


  1. Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE BANGALORE): In December 2010, a project for ‘additional development flight trials of Nirbhay’ was sanctioned costing Rs 18.1 crore . This was overlapping with an ongoing project codenamed Nirbhay sanctioned in 2004 at a cost of Rs 48 Crore.

  2. siddegowda says:

    DRDO Scientiksts are egoistic. They are more worried about their promotions. Any project we give, the PDC time will be decades. Any young scientist starts his career as Sc ‘B’, he will becomes Sc ‘G’/Sc ‘H’ showing same project as his research work.

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