Removed DRDO Chief to Bring in Younger Scientist: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

Removed DRDO Chief to Bring in Younger Scientist: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

Avinash Chander was removed as chief of India's defence research organisation on Tuesday. (File photo, courtesy AFP)

New Delhi:  The government today justified the sacking of top missile scientist Avinash Chander as the chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO. (DRDO Chief and Architect of Agni Missiles Avinash Chander Sacked)

"I recommended this. We didn't want somebody on contract to be in such a senior post. There are many eligible people," Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters.

He also said added that a younger scientist with the "urge for development" would take over as chairman of the country's main defence research organization.

Mr Chander's contract, extended in November to May 2016, was terminated yesterday by a panel on appointments headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He was, however, given no official notice and on Wednesday, he attended office. Sources close to him say "the dismissal could have been handled better."

"There was no ulterior motive in the removal," sources in the Prime Minister's Office told NDTV. (Read)

Reports suggest Mr Chander, 64, could be replaced by Sekhar Basu, the Director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and two years younger.

Sources have linked the sacking to the government's displeasure at DRDO's latest innovation, a battery-controlled silver chariot built with costly materials for a temple in Maharashtra. The chariot has been criticized as a waste of time and money when 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 have been delayed by many years and have seen several cost overruns.

Mr Chander, often known as "Agni man" for leading the long-range Agni series missile programme, was also the scientific adviser to the Defence Minister, and is the main person for all defence technology related issues.

His removal has stunned scientists, but sources in the government claim it was not entirely unexpected after PM Modi's criticism of what he called the "chalta hai (laid back)" attitude at a DRDO function in August.
"It is not that India lacks the talent pool but I think there is this 'chalta hai' attitude," the Prime Minister had said, adding that the DRDO has to "decide whether it has to respond to the situation" and set the agenda for the world.

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