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India to set up Defence Technology Commission

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Main Battle Tank 'Arjun'

NEW DELHI (PTI): Government Thursday announced setting up of a new Defence Technology Commission to provide a major boost to research and development and decided to go for the second generation of main battle tank 'Arjun' and 'Akash' surface-to-air missile.

The decision to set up the Commission with Defence Minister A K Antony as its chief forms part of a series of measures aimed at transforming and revitalising the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in form and substance, Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here.

"A new Defence Technology Commission will now be established with the Defence Minister as its Chairman and supported by a Secretariat located at DRDO Headquarters," he said, quoting Antony, who approved the recommendations of a committee under former Science and Technology Secretary P Rama Rao that was set up in February 2007 to restructure DRDO.

After the committee had submitted its report to Antony a year later, another team headed by Defence Secretary was formed to study the report and submit recommendations for implementation.

The government has also given its nod to development of second generation of main battle tank 'Arjun' and 'Akash' surface-to-air missile by DRDO.

With Arjun's performance in the comparative trials with Russian T-90 tanks coming in for praise and it proving itself to be a superior tank, the decision to go in for a second generation Arjun Mk-II tanks is only an indication that the Army would be inducting more of these tanks in the future.

Already, the Army has placed orders for 124 Arjun tanks of which about 50 tanks were finally handed over to it last year to form a regiment.

Other key measures on which Antony took a decision include the de-centralisation of DRDO management and making it a leaner organisation by merging some of its laboratories with other public-funded institutions with similar discipline, interest and administrative system.

The Defence Ministry would now engage an eminent Human Resource (HR) expert as consultant to revamp the entire HR structure of DRDO.
Kar said the decentralisation of DRDO management would be achieved through formation of technology domain-based centres or clusters of laboratories headed by Directors General.

"Seven centres will be created based on functionalities and technology domains. It will be the responsibility of the Directors General to ensure timely execution of major programmes and encouragement of research in laboratories," he said.

DRDO would also ensure full autonomy to all laboratories as far as Science and Technology initiatives were concerned. While empowering the Directors of the laboratories, DRDO would put in a mechanism in place to ensure the accountability of the laboratory Directors.

One of the major recommendations of the Rama Rao Committee was to make DRDO leaner by merging some of its laboratories with other public funded institutions have similar discipline, interests and administrative systems.

Antony also decided that the present DRDO Director General would be redesignated as 'DRDO Chairman' with Directors General at centres and Chief Controllers of Research and Development (CCsR&D) at the headquarters reporting to the DRDO Chairman, the head of the organisation.

The Chairman would also head the DRDO Management Council with seven Directors General and four CCsR&D and Additional Financial Advisor (R&D) as members.

The Financial Advisors at the appropriate levels would report to Directors General and Lab Directors to ensure accountability.

To revamp the DRDO's HR structure, the expert hired as consultant would be entrusted with the task of examining issues such as selection and tenure of Directors and avenues for the induction of talented persons, independently spotted by the Lab Directors and the heads of centres, including filling up of wastage vacancies.

It was also decided that the budget for rejuvenating research should be five per cent of DRDO's budget for a period of three years.

The new Commercial Arm of DRDO would be a Private Limited Company with a seed capital of about Rs 2 crore. It would deal only with spin-off products and technologies meant for civilian use.

"It will not take up any manufacturing activity. For any production activity, the services of public or private sector industry will be utilised," Kar added.

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