Missile expert, Avinash Chander, named DRDO chief - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 31 May 2013

Missile expert, Avinash Chander, named DRDO chief

Avinash Chander, a key leader in the Agni programme, will head DRDO for three years, starting June 1st 

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 1st June 13

The defence ministry (MoD) has appointed Dr Avinash Chander the new chief of the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) with effect from June 01. 

This is being seen as a signal of the MoD’s approval of the sustained success of the DRDO’s missile programme, with the incoming chief having personally overseen the development of successive versions of the Agni missile.

As the Director General of the DRDO, Chander will also hold the posts of Scientific Advisor to the Raksha Mantri (SA to RM); and Secretary, Defence R&D.

Chander will succeed Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat, like him a missile specialist. The careers of both have followed identical paths --- through Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s flagship Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. Later, as Director of the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), Hyderabad, Chander developed the Agni from a 1,500-kilometre missile that was of practical use only against Pakistan (targets in China are all beyond this range) to a 3,500 kilometre range missile that was India’s first viable deterrent against China.

Last year, as the chief controller of the DRDO’s missile programme, Chander led the development of the 5,000-kilometre Agni-5 missile. In recognition of his success, Chander was awarded the Padma Shri on Republic Day this year.

Chander will take over the DRDO at a time of change. The impending announcement of major changes to the defence procurement policy (DPP-2013) places the DRDO front-and-centre in the MoD’s professed drive to develop defence equipment in India rather than rely on imports. With the private sector not yet able to spend large sums on defence R&D, key aspects of weapons development will continue to be undertaken in the DRDO’s countrywide network of 50 laboratories.

Chander will also inherit from his predecessor, Saraswat, a DRDO drive for more funding. The outgoing chief has expressed dissatisfaction with the DRDO’s allocation of just 5.2 per cent of the defence budget, which nevertheless amounted to Rs 10,610 crore for 2013-14. Saraswat asked the MoD for at least 7-8 per cent of the budget, which would have increased the allocation by Rs 3,650 crore this year.

Within the DRDO, Chander’s appointment has been greeted with relief. A senior scientist told Business Standard, “Avinash Chander had already been given two extensions of service, but the government has rightly taken the difficult decision to appoint him DRDO chief for another three years.”


  1. Thanks for Astra missile pic. Wondering if this is baseline model for both MK-1 and MK-2 or it is just new incarnation of Astra MK-1?

  2. It is time for the DRDO to shape up or ship out. They havent been able to produce any credible product for a while. The Arjuns are a joke, the Tejas is still in the making and God knows when it will be FOC. The govt seriously need to be thinking about breaking up the organization. This has been a failed organization for so long now and I am not sure which government will have the guts to do that.

  3. Yes Hari all the DRDO missiles, radars, electronics in service are not credible at all. Because you deigned to inform us. With experts like you telling us and DRDO what to do, I am sure we will all be successful. :-)

  4. Anonymous 0:11 radars, electronics.... why don't you enlighten us about the different products DRDO has produced so far. Prepare a list and make sure you are satisfied with it before posting it.

  5. Hari:

    You're an idiot. Shut up the hell up and go away.

  6. Hope the staleness... politics... removed... by... incoming fresh breeze...

  7. @Kulari94 If you want to talk facts lets talk facts. Calling someone an idiot just because he has a different view point doesn't solve anything.

  8. @ Hari

    You've got some kind of a viewpoint from God knows where. Now, to change your uninformed perspective, you expect people to prepare a list of successful projects for you.

    Why don't you just read up yourself and inform yourself. There is hardly a shortage of successful DRDO products, given that Rs 1,50,000 crore worth of DRDO-developed products have already been introduced into service (Mr Antony's figures to parliament, not mine)

    The problem with too many people, and I refer here specifically to you, is that they have strong views that are unsupported by information.

  9. @Ajai sir, Its been 50 years since DRDO was established and we are still the largest arms importer in the world. Doesnt that bother you??? I know for a fact it does because you have said this several times in you blog. When things dont go well as you have planned you try to tweak the process and make it better. You just cant keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. My point is there is no dearth of talent in the DRDO but it is struck in too much red tape, breaking it down and holding each unit accountable and make the organization smaller and nimble can help.
    To the point of asking to prepare a list I was just implying that the list when prepared will not be satisfying enough.

  10. As a side note I am a avid reader of Broadsword (visit it every day) so "uninformed perspective" might not suit me well... :-)

  11. @ Hari

    Your comment "I was *just* implying that the list when prepared will not be satisfying enough" is not a patch on your other comment "They havent been able to produce any credible product for a while.".

    Besides, while this blog is great it's readership is not sufficient to rate oneself under "informed perspective". Clearly, going by your example much more effort would be needed.

    If you expect others to take you seriously, be a serious postor yourself first.

    Would you consider Rajendra and Akash credible? You claim readership of Broadsword and consider Arjun "joke"? Sorry, but you come across as nothing but a troll with an invisible set of fine clothes.

    Kind regards,

    1. "Troll with an invisible set of fine clothes" really man. I seriously don't understand what is setting you of so much. You are not bothered by the the fact that 40% percent of arjuns parts including the tank engine and transmission is imported. The rest supposedly indigenous can be considered so by just importing materials and assembling it locally.Tomorrow if the EU decides to impose sanctions for some reason we will not be able build Arjuns. You still consider it a success it is your opinion but forgive me for not thinking so.
      Also don't go about calling people "troll"in a public space just because he doesn't agree with you it doesn't make you any wiser.

  12. I support Hari's view. If somebody slashes out against another in an uncultured manner -words or dialogue-, it underlines his/her uncultured mannerism and inability to accept the facts and lack of providing credible support to his views. Or in another words, its when one becomes answer-less. How come the word Indigenous suit if it uses foreign components..??
    or as per the arguing minds, does something becomes indigenous if it uses 5% local parts? or let it be 15-25%. Does it??

    Also we should not gatecrash into the acquired confidence of DRDO persons. Atleast they are doing something na, even-though not to the expected levels.

  13. It would be far better to see a point-by-point & data based rebuttal instead of empty motherhood statements. I have provided examples and amd waiting to hear a decent counterpoint. Otherwise I will stand by my previous statements - only silently this time.

    As for % local content, I am happy to start with a relatively high % import provided we have alternatives. Yes, we do not have an alternative for the Arjun engine today and that is India's collective failure rather than DRDO alone. Ditto for our own turbofan. There are other areas where DRDO has failed but consider what they tried to achieve and consider the odds. Does not mean they couldn't have done better but some people here are being uncouth - plain & simple.



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