For decades, the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) could not come up with single noteworthy research that could result in an end product and is regularly being used by the Indian Armed Forces or the industry. However, in the last few years, the Modi government completely overhauled the institution and today it is not only helping with the launch of missiles and production of defence equipment, but also in the fight against Coronavirus with the design of ventilators and Covid drugs.
However, the illiterate and inefficient leaders of the Congress party are not able to digest this. Digvijay Singh, the senior leader of the Congress party, who would not be able to name even a few research institutions under DRDO and areas of its research, questioned why the body is doing research on Coronavirus. “Is Defence Research and Development Organisation into full time research on Health Issues? Shouldn’t they concentrate on research related to Defence and Indian Council of Medical Research be doing research on Medicines and other Health issues?” tweeted Singh.
Is Defence Research and Development Organisation into full time research on Health Issues? Shouldn’t they concentrate on research related to Defence and Indian Council of Medical Research be doing research on Medicines and other Health issues?https://t.co/FUflw7ST31
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) May 22, 2021
Research is all about the convergence of two fields and sometimes a project on something leads to valuable discovery in other fields. DRDO has more than 40 laboratories and around 5,000 scientists.
Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, Indian scientists and researchers from different institutions like DRDO, ICMR, CSIR have risen to the occasion to come up with efficient and cost-effective solutions.
In the last few weeks, different laboratories under DRDO came up with a drug, 2-DG (2-deoxy-D-Glucose), to improve oxygen level among Covid patients and a home testing kit.
Previously the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), a laboratory of DRDO, has created an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to help detect Covid-19 from chest X-rays.
Earlier DRDO was like any other inefficient relic of the Nehruvian economy but in the last few years, especially since the appointment of G Satheesh Reddy as its Chairman in August 2018, DRDO has been performing at its very best. G Satheesh Reddy was appointed in August 2018 for a two-year term and the government gave him an extension of two years given the extraordinary performance of the institution under his leadership.
Today the six-decade-old organisation with 30,000 workers is among the institutions that are leading the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan through indigenous production of high-tech products.
A few months ago, DRDO conducted tests of 12 missiles- which is sort of a record- with the latest being a lethal anti-tank missile. In the wake of the ongoing LAC standoff with China since June, these successive tests have become even more important and signal aggressive posturing by India.
The Modi government is overhauling the research institutions in different sectors. ISRO has been working very efficiently for decades and DRDO is being overhauled by the government under the leadership of G Satheesh Reddy. ICMR has also built significant capabilities and was overhauled in the fight against COVID-19.
However, the overhaul of the institution is obviously not going well with the Congress party and its senior leaders who, during the UPA era, left the research institutions like DRDO, ICMR, CSIR, ICAR to die a slow death.
With a network of more than 50 laboratories and a budget of around 16,000 crore rupees, DRDO has an important role to play not only in the indigenisation of defence production but also during disaster management, as seen throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. The institutions like DRDO will play a major role in making AtmaNirbhar and help in India’s power projection through scientific and technological advancements.