“Dr G Satheesh Reddy Chairman DRDO, Shri MSR Prasad Director General (Missile & Strategic Systems), all scientists of DRDO and dear sisters and brothers,
It is a great pleasure to address the scientists from the laboratories of Missile cluster of DRDO. Many of you have made a mark with your contributions in the ever- challenging field of defence science and technology. It is also a matter of pride to address you all from the campus of DRDL, the core facility of the entire missile development and production activities in India.
As we all are aware, India’s journey of Missile technology development has started with the establishment of DRDL in 1961 when the need was felt to develop indigenous missiles. With the aim of developing a comprehensive range of indigenous missiles for all the three defence forces, the scientists and technologists of DRDO have started the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). The IGMDP was successfully led by one of the greatest sons of India, the former President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
Recently, I had the honour to release a book on Dr. Kalam in Chennai titled “Abdul Kalam-- Ninaivukadhalukku Maranamillai", which translates “Abdul Kalam-- Immortal memories”. The book is in Tamil and written by Dr APJM Nazema Maraikayar, niece of Dr. Kalam and the well-known space scientist Dr YS Rajan.
I was fortunate to interact with Dr. Kalam on several occasions when he was in DRDO and later when he became the President of India. Whenever I met him, I was struck by his simplicity, the depth of his knowledge and his deep desire to make India a Superpower. The success of IGMDP programme under his astute leadership laid the foundation of India’s self-reliance in strategic defence technologies.
Attaining self-reliance in the defence sector is not only of critical or strategic importance for the country, but is also essential in terms of national pride. I am glad to note that scientists of the missile cluster of DRDO continue to maintain the legacy of Dr. Kalam and have developed new generation state of the art missile systems.
Some of the recent missiles which have been tested successfully are QRSAM, SMART, MPATGM, Anti-Satellite Missile and Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator.
I have been informed that despite the challenges of lockdown and the threat of COVID-19 pandemic, the scientists have worked hard to meet important milestones of the missile development programmes and have successfully undertaken the development trials of QRSAM (Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile), MRSAM (Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile) SAAW (Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon), SMART (Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo) , MPATGM ( Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile), NGRAM (New-Generation Anti-Radiation Missile) using Passive Homing Head Seeker; Programme Controlled flight trials of HELINA, user assisted trials of NAG, flight trials of BrahMos using indigenous booster, Land version and technology demonstration of Hypersonic Cruise Flight for 20 second duration for HSTDV. All these are commendable achievements in the wake of the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
Dear sisters and brothers,
India and the rest of the world faced an unprecedented disruption to normal activities following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Life came to a virtual halt and people from all sections, particularly the poor, were badly affected by the pandemic.
However, the Government of India took quick action to minimize the adverse effects of the pandemic. With the support of the people, we have been able to contain the spread of the novel corona virus in our country. Scientists too raced against time and came up with vaccine in a record time, and as a result, lakhs of people are getting vaccinated today.
I am hopeful that very soon the vaccine will reach every citizen of India and the pandemic will end.
India’s fight against COVID-19 tells a successful story of containing the virus. The valiant heroes of this fight are the people of India, police forces, medical fraternity, scientists and technologists and providers of essential commodities and services, all of whom rose to the occasion and supported the national cause wholeheartedly despite facing the risk of getting infected.
Our farmers deserve special appreciation for achieving a record food grain production of 296.65 million tonnes in 2019-20 in spite of the hardship caused by the restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has severely affected the economy and livelihoods of the people. At the same time, it offered us an opportunity to establish our own strength and capabilities.
The government, scientists, engineers, innovators, commercial and industrial enterprises took up this challenge and came up with excellent innovative products, personal protection equipment and scaled up the health care system. All these efforts illustrate our strength and are in the direction of making India Atma Nirbhar. Therefore, it is no surprise that now we are exporting indigenous vaccines to other countries.
I am very happy to note that DRDO, despite being primarily engaged in the strategic defence R&D, gave its wholehearted support to the national cause of fighting against the corona pandemic. During the lockdown itself, DRDO scientists worked hard to provide many technology solutions such as equipment for containment of the virus, protective equipment and lifesaving equipment. It is commendable that DRDO employees enthusiastically donated for the establishment of 1000 bed Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel COVID hospital in Delhi. The establishment of a 1000 bed hospital in just 12 days illustrates the kind of capabilities DRDO has and how quickly it can respond in war-like situations. I would like DRDO to display the same spirit in surmounting every technological challenge it faces.
I am also glad to note that the scientists of missile clusters have taken India very close to self-reliance in missile technology with their hard work, dedication and perseverance. I am told that the Akash missile system has recently been put into the negative list of items for import by the Ministry of Defence. It means that India is now self-reliant in this kind of missile system and so the armed forces need not import similar missile systems. This is a commendable achievement by DRDO in view of the fact that India has signed Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) only in 2018, which means that India did not have access to high end missile technology developed by developed countries and had to face limitations in having partnership with other countries in the area of missile technology.
DRDO, quite appropriately, turned the crisis it faced during MTCR into an opportunity in developing a range of indigenous missile systems.
India is now trying to shift its status from being one of the largest importers of defence products to one of the top exporters of defence items. The defence technology ecosystem of India has given confidence to the government to ban the import of 101 weapons, platforms, and equipment in next five years. The government has also set up a target of achieving defence exports worth ₹35,000 crore in next four years.
Despite the laudable efforts of scientists and technologists of DRDO in developing self-reliant defence technologies, there is still ample opportunity for increasing India’s defence exports, which still remain very low despite the recent increase by 7 times. This indicates that there is a lot of scope in developing defence technologies of export value. Scientists and technologists are required to not only identify the futuristic defence needs of the country but also the technologies that can be exported.
Self-reliant technologies give boost to the local industry, generate the employment opportunities and earn valuable foreign exchange. Thus, self-reliant technologies play a critical role in supporting the economy and making the nation prosperous. The Prime Minister, Shri Narendrabhai Modi’s call for Atma Nirbhar Bharat and Vocal for Local has given a new impetus to the concept of self-reliance. In this scenario, it is necessary for DRDO to redefine its focus on strategic defence technologies and outsource activities which can be carried out by capable private sector participants.
The technological landscape of human knowledge is also changing very fast. The futuristic military systems will heavily depend on the rapidly evolving fields of Artificial Intelligence, quantum technologies, asymmetric technologies and smart materials. I am happy to note that DRDO has recently set up 8 advanced technology centers to carry out research on futuristic military applications and young scientist’s laboratories have already been set up for working on the futuristic technologies.
I am sure that Scientists and Technologists of DRDO with their caliber and commitment will make India so self-reliant that Atma Nirbhar Bharat will attain a position where the world will be Bharat Par Nirbhar.