Nearly four months after sacking Avinash Chander, the Modi government on Thursday appointed radar specialist Selvin Christopher and missile scientist GS Reddy as the DRDO chief and Scientific Adviser to the defence minister, respectively.
Like his predecessors, Avinash Chander, who was sacked in January, held the two posts. But the government concluded that it was erroneous to expect a scientist to be an adviser as well as head the research development body and decided to bifurcate the post.
Christopher – who heads the Bengaluru-based Centre for Airborne Systems and the project to develop airborne early warning and control systems – will be the secretary, department of defence research and development as well as director general of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).
The new scientific adviser to defence minister, G Satheesh Reddy is the director of the Hyderabad-based Research Centre Imarat (RCI), the missile avionics hub of DRDO that is considered the brainchild of former president APJ Abdul Kalam.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, 59, had indicated after Avinash Chander’s removal that he did not want a senior position to be held by a scientist on contract wanted to “introduce in scientific world, a slightly younger generation”. He kept his word. Parrikar’s Scientific Adviser is just 51, eight years younger to the minister while Christopher is in his late fifties.
Christopher faces the challenging task of revitalising the DRDO that has slipped on deadlines on more than one occasion and had even come under fire from a parliamentary panel recently for shoddy research, inordinate delays, corruption and its fancy for reverse engineering.