India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a strong pitch for providing young scientists more opportunities at India’s only defence research agency, Defence Research and Development Agency (DRDO), and exhorted it to dedicate five labs to scientists below the age of 35.
“The country has new talent. Can we dedicate five labs to people below the age of 35 years? Why not take the risk? Let the ultimate decision be taken by the people in these labs, by these people,” said Modi at a DRDO function on August 20.
Of DRDO’s 52 labs, the prime minister wants five to be handed over to the youth and them to take key decisions.
“Lets us take a bold decision by giving the youth an opportunity. We will tell them that the world is going ahead, you show us (the way). The youth is highly capable and it can deliver. 20-25 year old youth would do very well in cyber security area as they are oriented towards that and the results will be very good,” added Modi
However, the prime minister chided DRDO for its lackadaisical attitude. He said that the “Chalta hai” (anything goes) attitude will no longer work. He added that India had the potential to be a world leader in the defence sector but was held back due to its inability to complete projects on time.
“The world will not wait for us. We have to run ahead of time. We should not say in 2014 that a project conceived in 1992 will take some more time.”
Numerous DRDO projects such as the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Nag missile, Long-range Surface-to-Air missile project and the Airborne Early Warning and Control System projects have run into major delays, and have cost much higher than originally estimated. He added that the DRDO must stay ahead two steps ahead of everyone else if it wants to outperform global players.
Comparing scientists to rishis (sages), he called for more cooperation between DRDO and the armed forces to generate particle ideas that will help the ultimate user of the equipment –the soldiers.
New Delhi has been actively pursuing efforts to make India self-sufficient in defence equipment. But some experts believe this aspiration may take time to fulfil as India still imports over 65% of its military requirements, and lacks a strong domestic defence-industrial base (DIB).
“DRDO has to decide whether it will only react to the situation, or become pro-active and set the agenda for the global community. I have hopes from DRDO because I know it has the capability to perform,” added Modi.
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