June 23, 2007

Scientist Leaving DRDO – Why call Attrition ?

Scientist Leaving DRDO – Why call Attrition ?

The DRDO Directors’ Conference held on February, 21, 2007 was effective in a sense that media started reminding about DRDO functioning more frequently. Example, the dissatisfaction expressed by the Parliament’s standing committee on defence, the Minister A.K. Antony asking DRDO to answer for the huge delays in high profile projects, the concern expressed by Defence Services on DRDO projects and deliverables, the criticism of the individuals and an appreciation for the Government action in short listing private firms for granting the status of Rakshya Udyog Ratna. DRDO of course tried to read in between the lines, expressing – “High attrition rate of young scientists … The DRDO’s representation to the Pay Commission . . .proposals to increase salaries of its scientists to arrest the exodus ? . . . and so on “. Extracts from few such reporting are reproduced below for quick reference.

Address at the DRDO Directors’ Conference, dated 21/02/2007,   by the President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, The Hindu, dated 22/02/2007, “Set goal for self-reliance in defence systems”: Kalam , by Special Correspondent. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Wednesday asked defence scientists to bring about a change in their functioning to deliver on India’s requirements of futuristic weapon platforms.

Indian Express dated 14/06/2007 :   DRDO Scientists are leaving to the greener avenues available in the Private Sector. More than 300 Scientists and Technical staff has left DRDO in the year 2006.

Tribune Chandigarh, dated 28/04.2007 :  “During 2002-2006, . . . 1,007 scientists left . . . DRDO due to increased opportunities available in the private sector,” DRDO is seeking a four-fold increase in salaries . . . from the Sixth Pay Commission.

Citizen Journalism, dated 15/06/2007 :  Because of better career prospects nearly 33% of people who join DRDO quit (attrition rate as BPO), nearly 20% use DRDO as stepping stone, nearly 18% are leaving due to lack of professional challenge and 8% leave DRDO looking for advancement and additional qualifications.

The Hindu, dated 23/12/2007 :   Defence Minister, Mr. Antony said “concerns had been expressed in various quarters over the functioning of the DRDO. The time has come to look inward and see whether the organization is tuning itself adequately to the changing times.

Hindustan Times, dated 17/06/2007 :   1,007  DRDO scientists quit in five years.

Parliament’s standing committee report on the DRDO :   During the 10th Plan (2002-07), targeted 70% indigenization, only 30-35% could be achieved. Even after 48 years of its formation has not achieved its targeted mission of self reliance. “Urgent need for a thorough review” of its functioning and organizational structure “to increase its efficiency”. Pointing delays in the MBT, LCA and its Kaveri engine, and Integrated guided missile development programme (IGMDP). Noting “No scientific audit at any point of time of DRDO and its projects”, recommended that the organization’s projects “must be audited by external and independent groups of experts approved by the government.

The Indian Express, dated 23/06/2007 :   “Just DRDO won’t do” ,——–/16975/ , by Milind Deora, 21/11/2006. In 1958, India established the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), still hasn’t been able to achieve its vision – everything that really matters in the Indian military is still imported . . .   How India can Stop Subsidizing Russia And Israel by Milind Deora, India can build strong indigenous capabilities while creating competitive benchmarks for DRDO through the active participation of the private sector. . . If India has built world-class multinationals in sectors such as information technology and pharmaceuticals, both of which are knowledge-driven industries, we could easily create a handful of defence multinationals in less than a decade. . . A small nation like Israel accounts for a tenth of world defence sales and approximately a fifth of its exports are defence-related. While India had an annual import bill of around $5 billion last year, we exported a paltry $47 million worth of arms. Pakistan, which lacks our industrial base, exported nearly twice as much.

Expressing such dissatisfaction, criticism or concern about DRDO accomplishment is not new. After the Kargil war (1999) DRDO activities were subjected to some scrutiny and a few reforms were suggested, but Not much was done on those recommendations (The Indian Express, 23/06/2007). Also, commenting on the DRDO in isolation, without looking at the higher defence management framework within which it is placed, would perhaps lead to incomplete or even flawed deductions.

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 By R C Chakraborty, July 12, 2006,   Former Director of DTRL & ISSA, DRDO,,

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