Onus of self-reliance should be shared by all, says DRDO chief

Onus of self-reliance should be shared by all, says DRDO chief

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Defence Minister A K Antony during DRDO Awards function in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

“The DRDO neither has the power to impose its products on its customer nor the mandate or capacity to produce the developed systems all by themselves,” DRDO chief V K Saraswat said at a function here on Wednesday, countering the charges made by the three services.

The DRDO is often blamed by the three services for the country’s failure in having an indigenous main battle tank (Arjun) or a fighter aircraft (LCA) or various missiles (tardy progress in Aaksh, Trishul and Nag) despite decades of research. In the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony, Saraswat shot back: “It must be understood that the responsibility of self-reliance should be shared by all stake-holders of the Defence Ministry and cannot be placed on the DRDO alone.”

The services must understand that while the temptation may be overwhelming to field proven, state-of-the-art imported systems, they too have a role to play in the economic and industrial growth of the country, he said. “No foreign system can be customised to completely address our long-term requirements,” Saraswat said.

According to an independent economic analysis, the total production value of the major systems inducted into the services has reached Rs 68,000-crore in the last decade, with the R&D investment of about Rs 3,000 crore per year.  

Self-reliance index will certainly be enhanced with new major systems like MBT, LCA, Radars and Electronic Warfare Systems being inducted into the services, Saraswat said.
The DRDO chief asked for freedom to choose its own production agency in a transparent manner based on the agency’s capacity for technology absorption rather than going by the pricing route solely.

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