News Brief

Revamping DRDO: High-Powered Committee Recommends Major Restructuring And Enhanced Role For Private Sector

Nayan Dwivedi

Jan 10, 2024, 10:57 AM | Updated 10:57 AM IST

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India's premier defence research agency, is set for a major overhaul as a high-powered committee, led by former principal scientific advisor Professor K Vijay Raghavan, has submitted its recommendations.

This move follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board two years ago, marking a shift towards increased autonomy and flexibility for defence public sector undertakings.

While the report is shrouded in secrecy, insider sources suggest a pivot towards a more significant role for the private defence sector, reported India Today.

The committee recommends restricting DRDO to research and development, excluding the production of prototypes, with a focus on creating a robust indigenous defence production ecosystem.

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The proposal also advocates consolidating the existing 40-plus DRDO labs into around 10 national-level facilities and the establishment of five national test facilities open to private players.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister's Office might directly oversee key strategic projects, reflecting a desire for optimal project outcomes.

The committee also suggests bifurcating the post of Secretary (Research and Development) in the Ministry of Defence and focuses on attracting high-quality manpower through incentives and disincentives.

With an outlay of Rs 23,264 crore in the 2023-24 budget estimate, DRDO has faced criticism for project delays and cost overruns.

However, the government's intention to follow the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency model indicates a shift towards a funding-focused approach without in-house labs.

While these recommendations align with the government's push for Aatmanirbhar Bharat and increased defence exports, the DRDO workforce awaits clarity on their future roles and ongoing programmes.

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Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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