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DRDO ‘very slow’ on projects: Antony
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 9
With an international audience watching the proceedings, India today laid bare its frustration over the inability to develop world-class weapon systems.

“When our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru set up the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), he wanted to see India attaining self-sufficiency in weapon production. But, to date only 30 per cent of our defence equipments are indigenously produced, while 70 per cent are purchased from abroad,” Defence Minister A K Antony said while giving the presidential address at an international seminar organised here on the occasion of Aero India 2009.

Besides India, delegates from 12 different countries, including the USA, the UK, Russia, France and Brazil, are participating in the seminar - “Trends and perspectives in the aerospace technologies”.

The Defence Minister was not deterred by presence of foreigners among the audience and decided to speak his mind out. Ironically, it was DRDO, the organiser of the seminar, which bore the brunt of the Defence Minister’s outburst.

Antony said the DRDO was “very slow” in execution of projects. “Your delivery is very slow”, Antony said looking at DRDO chief M Natarajan, who was sitting on the dais. The Congress leader from Kerala kept a smiling face but did not mince his words while airing his dissatisfaction over the performance of the DRDO. “You take too much time” (to complete a project), he said.

The Defence Minister did not confine his criticism to the DRDO alone. He also pulled up public sector undertakings entrusted with making equipments for the defence forces. They were all “very slow” in producing results, Antony said and asked them to “speed up”.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chief Ashok K Baweja represented public sector on the dais.

Antony promised to enhance funding for R&D activities for the defence sector. “Now only 6 per cent of the defence budget is spent on research. I will see to it that the spending on research increases”, he said.

The Defence Minister said the door of the defence sector had been now opened for private participation. But the private companies were also found stingy with regard to spending money on research. “Their investment in research has fallen much below our expectations”, he said.

Antony, however, lauded the DRDO and HAL for developing Dhruv, the multi-role advanced light helicopter (ALH).

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