Overhauling Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

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September 14, 2023

Why in news?

It is necessary to focus the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that performs research activity for the Armed Forces.

What is DRDO?

  • Ministry - Department of Defence Research and Development, Ministry of Defence
  • Role- Military's research and development
  • Headquarters- New Delhi, India
  • 1958- It was formed by the merger of the
    • Technical Development Establishment
    • Directorate of Technical Development and Production of the Indian Ordnance Factories
    • Defence Science Organisation
  • 1979- Defence Research & Development Service (DRDS) was constituted in 1979.
  • Motto-Balasya Mulam Vigyanam” – “The source of strength is science”

The Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) under A P J Abdul Kalam is the most prominent success of DRDO.

Why are the issues in DRDO?

  • Low performance- Its performance has been low over the years causing much disappointment in the armed forces.
  • Organisational issues - DRDO has done excellent work in flashes but this has been more due to individual brilliance and not because of organisational effectiveness.
  • Time constraints- Electronic Warfare systems versions have also been successful, but the procedure to adopt have been slow.
  • Product realisation timelines have been excessive and end products are often dated by the time they are fielded.
  • Long term trials- The trials go on for years with little assurance that the desired end state will be reached. This situation needs correction.

Why DRDO needs ISRO overhaul?




Limited focus

Sharp Focus- Space applications technologies such as propulsion, material science, control, navigation, imaging and tracking.

Expanded scope- Underwater, surface and air, results in dilution of focus.


ISRO is being the developer, launcher and controller all in one, ready their product.

DRDO is only the developer thus causing a serious of cohesion and persistence from design to realisation

  • Conflict of interest- Once a prototype is successfully developed, there are production agencies and users that have separate responsibilities for serial production, trials and acceptance.
  • The user groups change frequently during the development of a product by the DRDO, leading to a slowdown of projects.

What needs to be done?

  • Audit- A thorough audit of all our DRDO laboratories, encompassing processes, organisation and workforce should be undertaken.
  • Review research- The degree to which DRDO conducts fundamental research also needs review.
  • Proper examination- Skewed teeth-to-tail ratios and the top-heavy nature of the organisation must be examined.
    • The tooth-to-tail ratio refers to the amount of military personnel ("tail") it takes to supply and support each combat soldier ("tooth").
  • Critical assessment- DRDO laboratories’ contribution towards enhancing the combat-readiness of our armed forces must be critically assessed.
  • Infrastructure regulation- Laboratories which not serving their envisaged purpose should be wound up.
  • Productive agencies- The performance of production agencies as also the involvement and value-addition by user groups must be evaluated and made more productive.
  • Widen the disciplines- The armed forces must define niche disciplines in which DRDO should expend its efforts.
  • Technology share- ISRO and DRDO must share technologies that overlap between space and defence domains.
    • Kalam’s long association with ISRO and the continuity he provided to the IGMDP would have been two big reasons for the success of the programme.
  • Indigenization- Self-reliance in the defence industry will enhance India’s strategic independence and promote development in the country’s domestic defence and aerospace industry.

Quick Facts

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

  • It is the national space agency of India.
  • Headquarters- Bangalore, Karnataka
  • 1962- It was previously known as the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR)
  • 1969- INCOSPAR grew and became ISRO in 1969, within the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
  •  1972- The Government of India set up a Space Commission and the Department of Space (DoS), bringing ISRO under it.
  • Control- It operates as the primary research and development arm of the (DoS), which is directly overseen by the Prime Minister.
  • Executive-The Chairman of ISRO acts as the executive of DoS.
  • Role- Responsible for performing tasks related to space-based operations, space exploration, international space cooperation and the development of related technologies.

 To know more about ISRO, click here



  1. Indian Express- India’s defence ecosystem needs ISRO overhaul
  2. ISRO- About ISRO
  3. DRDO- About DRDO
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