Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Avinash Chander will retire on November 30 and continue to hold the same charge on contract for the next 18 months.
This is in line with his appointment order issued on May 31 last year.
A government order dated November 27 reads, "The President of India is pleased to retire Avinash Chander from government service with effect from November 30, 2014 on attaining the age of superannuation (64)." Chander received the order on Friday afternoon.
Chander told Hindustan Times, "There is nothing new in this development. It is as per my original appointment order. I will continue to hold the same position with the same mandate for the next 18 months." The order dated November 27 makes it clear that he will "continue to be in operation" for the next 18 months on contract. As DRDO chief, Chander also holds the appointments of scientific adviser to Raksha Mantri and secretary, department of defence R&D.
Chander's appointment order for a three-year term stated that he would stay in government service till the retirement age of 64 and complete the remaining term as a contractual employee. Chander, who is credited with shaping India’s strategic missile programme, turned 64 on November 6. Government employees retire on the last day of the month they are born in.
The DRDO was set up in 1958 to develop indigenous military technology and cut back on arms imports. India holds the dubious distinction of being the world's largest weapons importer. It sources 70% of its defence requirements from abroad.
The DRDO had in August come in for some sharp criticism from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over delays and cost overruns in key military programmes. Modi had said India had the potential to be a world leader in the defence sector but was being held back by a “chalta hai” attitude.
The government had recently turned down a request by the organisation to grant extension to four senior scientists who had attained the age of retirement.
The DRDO is working on an elaborate weapons export plan to make inroads in the lucrative global arms market. It has identified 15 weapon systems that could help the country get its foot in the door in the international arms bazaar.