Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday that India's current level of self-reliance in defence research and development was low and needed to be stepped up significantly. But the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said it could not be held solely responsible.
Speaking at a DRDO awards function, Singh said, "We should be able to acknowledge and learn from our setbacks. It is a fact that some projects have been delayed and others have faced difficulties during operational induction."
Earlier, DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat had said DRDO had long been held responsible for the level of self-reliance in defence systems, but that the responsibility had to be shared by all stakeholders of the defence ministry.
Saraswat, who is also the defence minister's scientific advisor, said the DRDO had no power to impose its products on its customers.
Taking a dig at the military for its tendency to shop for weapon systems abroad, he said, "The Services must also understand that while the temptation may be overwhelming to field state-of-the-art imported systems, they too have a role
to play in the economic and industrial growth of the country."
He said no foreign system could be customised to completely address India's long- term requirements. The total production value of major DRDO systems inducted into the Services has touched Rs 68,000 crore over the last 10 years, compared with the modernisation budget of Rs 60,000 crore for 2010-11 alone.
The figure stood at Rs 54,824 crore for 2009-10 and Rs 48,007 crore for the year before.
Saraswat said the self-reliance index would be enhanced with the induction of systems such as main battle tank Arjun and the light combat aircraft.
He said the DRDO's Agni-V programme was on track and would become a reality next year. The Agni-V intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) is being designed to hit targets more than 5,500 km away.