The Naresh Chandra Task Force on national security is out with its recommendation and it follows the regular boxing up of the nations Defence research set up. The task force wants to delink the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chiefs post from also being the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. The report wants an Advanced Projects Agency (APA) to be set up for high-risk futuristic military research. The APA is to be chaired by the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. In short it is akin to China’s 863 programme, or DARPA in the United states. It recommends participation of private industry, education institutions, CSIR etc.
The report is nothing by myopic and rehash of what has been done in existing set up with new posts to be created. Once it was the user which boxed the DRDO into seclusion and now the policy joins it. Naresh Chandra Task Force on national security is typically what ails Indian policy making and its policy bankruptcy.
The users have slowly warmed up to the DRDO. The cautious collaborative stance is not even a decade old and logically take time to produce results. The need of the hour is an agency which can translate the defence R&D into military deployable products. The DRDO’s own think tank and institutions like Institute for Systems Studies & Analyses (ISSA) should be taken to next level and moulded into a Rand Corporation like institution.
The need to set up APA citing DRDO failures is a mystery. It does not take into account that the infrastructure built by DRDO in past decades cannot be replicated in APA and if resources can be delivered to APA, then why not deliver it to DRDO?
The proximity of DRDO Chiefs like APJ Abdul kalam and Dr VK Swaraswat has delivered India’s strategic programs, including the Shakti tests. It makes no sense if one more additional post has to be created.
The need of the hour is not to create duplicate agency for defence research. India needs to find efficiencies in existing setup.