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Delay in strategic projects. DRDO tells you why
Sagar Kulkarni in Visakhapatnam | January 04, 2008 14:03 IST
Shortage of good scientists and not paucity of funds is preventing the premier Defence Research and Development Organisation from carrying forward several key strategic projects, its chief M Natarajan has said.
The organisation has now turned to universities to tap talent at an early stage and wants the students to commit at least three years for research with defence laboratories.
Natarajan said five research boards to assess research proposals for the DRDO have been operational for the last three years but very few match the standards set up by them.
"Though the boards have been operational for the last three years, there has been very little off-take," he said at the 95th Indian Science Congress here last evening.
The DRDO Director General asked students gathered for the annual event to look up to defence research as a career option asking them to commit at least three years for it.
"There is no dearth of funds but we face an acute paucity of scientists," said Natarajan, who was honoured with the C V Raman Centenary Award.
Defence projects have a long gestation period, which require a minimum of 10 years of dedicated research. As per the budget estimates for 2007-08, defence has been allocated Rs 96,000 crore of which 6.6 per cent is set aside for the DRDO.
Of the Rs 6336 crore allotted to it, the DRDO spends Rs 2220 crore (35 per cent) on research activities, Natarajan said.
The DRDO has a 30,000 strong workforce across its 51 laboratories comprising 7,000 scientists and 12,000 technical staff.
"The number of scientists is far too meagre to handle complex projects that we undertake. 100-135 scientists per lab is not a big figure," Natarajan said.
The DRDO has also established five Centres of Excellence including at Indian Institutes of Technology in Mumbai and Kanpur and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore where about 80 students at each centre work on defence-related basic research.
"This number has to go up to 800 per centre or even 8000," Natarajan said.
He said several Parliamentary Committees have even suggested increasing the spending on defence research to 10 per cent of the defence budget.
The DRDO has been receiving several proposals for setting up centres of excellence but has to put them on hold due to lack of trained manpower.
"How can centres of excellence be set up without trained persons to man them," Natarajan asked.