DRDO Chief

The Modi government has sacked DRDO chief and missile scientist Avinash Chander, who is also the scientific advisor to the defence minister, almost 16 months before his tenure approved by the previous UPA regime was to end.

The move is seen as an attempt by the Modi government to usher in systemic reforms in DRDO — which has a vast empire of 52 labs, 7,800 scientists and over 530 R&D projects worth over Rs 48,000 crore — but has a long history of failing to deliver cutting-edge weapon systems to the armed forces in time.

Chander had retired in November last year on turning 64 but, in keeping with the order passed by the UPA regime in May 2013, was scheduled to continue as DRDO chief till May 2016 on a contractual basis. But on Tuesday, an official notification said the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had “approved the termination of his contract” with effect from January 31.

Chander himself was clueless. “I have not received any letter or order terminating my services till now. I cannot comment on the reasons but it’s the government’s prerogative. I joined DRDO in August 1972 and would consider the missile programme my biggest achievement,” he told TOI on Tuesday evening.