O P Sharma
Dr Sudershan Kumar, former Director- General of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ministry of Defence and presently member of Amarnath Shrine Board, is a son-of-soil, who has made significant contribution in taking India advance in defence production and now heading towards self-reliance.
In an exclusive interview with me, Dr Sudershan Kumar, who has worked with Missile Man, APJ Abdul Kalam shared his varied and vast experience in shaping and strengthening India’s arms and security might. Firm foundation of DRDO had been laid and the present regime is admirably engaged to add to the military might, diplomatic prestige and generated enough public support politically with strong economic base.
Interesting and informative are his views on various current security-related issues and other national or global matters. And he articulates his viewpoint with courage and conviction yet keeping his tongue tight on national security secrets. He was there at the time of first atomic test during tenure of former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and also part of other notable technological advances. He has firm faith that India is well set on the path of advances in modern science and technology as also our nation’s race for being a Super Power in time to come for durable peace, sustainable development and betterment of entire humanity.
Born in February 1954 at Reasi, he had schooling in his native place and did M.Sc (Physics) and also completed Ph.D from Jammu University. Thereafter, he successfully competed in UPSC and got selected as a scientist in DRDO at Jaipur in 1983 and worked in various capacities in highly specialized areas of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) warfare for 33 years with vast experience. He superannuated from DRDO on March 1, 2016 as Distinguished Scientist & Director -General.
It is noteworthy that Dr Sudershan Kumar gradually climbed the ladder of career to head this prestigious Defence organisation by dint of hard work, high motivation and innovation in his professional transforming DRDO into an effective instrument of quality production and high prestige. He has visited a large number of foreign countries negotiating defence deals involving crores of rupees and came out clean. He is known for competence, integrity and has bagged a large number of covetous awards from reputed institutions.
As a Scientist, he claimed to develop CBRN Reconnaissance vehicle to counter CBRN threat as per the requirement of the armed forces, Instantaneous Nuclear & Chemical detection system for underground Shelter and Environmental Survey Vehicle for background radioactivity measurements and got them inducted into the services.
As a Chairman, Environmental Safety Committee of Indian Navy, he modernized naval facilities in a record time of 24 months. Prepared SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for off-site and on-site emergency plans. Through proactive and innovative approach, visited forward locations in eastern and northern sectors and provided innovative solutions for storage of ammunition in these areas, notable among them are: Underground structures, Igloos and structures based on unit risk principles.
In the wide-ranging interview, Dr Sudershan spoke with conviction and confidence. Excerpts follow:
Q:What are main significant attainments during your tenure as DG of DRDO, Defence Ministry? Is this organisation ready to attain the objective of self reliance in defence requirements of our nation?
A: During my tenure many new programs were initiated, focus was also on involvement of private sector for modernization of our forces. Many new state-of-art equipment/systems were inducted and signed with foreign Governments. Organization is quite prepared to attain the objective of self-reliance which is at present around 28 to 32 percent; so urgent needs to raise it upto 80 to 85 percent. I think a consortium approach with all stake holders on board will be a first step in this direction.
Q: What, according to you as defence related professional, our nation is facing in the strife- stricken situation and constant threats of terrorism?
A: Mainly terrorism related challenges are:
Increasing threats of terrorism from south western and northern neighbor, threatening postures of nuclear weapons, radicalization of youth, mis-information campaign and fake news as also Cyber warfare. These challenges are to be met effectively.
Q: Can you share your few important experiences of working in the DRDO?
A: Being a part of one of this prestigious organizations, itself was a great experience. My contribution towards nation was equipping the armed forces with strategic systems to counter various threats. The induction of these systems has resulted in saving of foreign exchange to the tune of Rs. 1000 crore.
Q: Is DRDO well equipped with research and innovation? How best to negotiate for transfer of latest technology from across the globe to make us strong as a big power?
A: The vision of DRDO is to empower India with cutting edge defence technologies and provide our armed forces decisive advantage by equipping with most modern systems and solutions. I may say the DRDO has nearly 7600 talented scientists and technologists in 56 laboratories across the country.
Regarding transfer of technology, we have come up with indigenous technology and get minimum of it as per our requirements. DRDO has prepared comprehensive guidelines for transfer of technology for the use of nation .
Q: How do you view the emerging new dangers and challenges and how to stand up to them?
A: The new millennium challenges are many-fold including the changing global security scenario, emergence of new face of terrorism, regional grouping, states possessing weapon of mass destruction and Cyber war-fare. Besides, in new world order, attention is also required to provide Maritime security for trading through sea routes for sustenance of economy.
I may add that our scientists do have Capability, Capacity, Competence, Courage and Commitment to accomplish the assigned task through Innovative approach.
Q: Are our youth talented and competent enough to attain top slots in different sectors in the country and abroad?
A: YES, Indian youth is highly talented and very innovative. Only issue is lack of opportunity and resources. If opportunity is provided, they are fully competent to take up top slots in different sectors in the country and abroad. The government must devices innovative approach to tap genius young minds and provide them opportunities.
Q: How you view vast ongoing changes in Jammu and Kashmir? What future holds for us and the nation?
A: Ongoing geo-political and economic changes in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh can be viewed as a first right step for prosperous and integrated India. These steps are imperative for providing ample of opportunities to the youth and bringing them in the mainstream of the nation. The abrogation of the Article 370 will certainly open flood-gates for sustainable development and employment opportunities for all the people.
Q: What scenario do you visualise for optimal benefits to the people of J&K under present circumstances?
A: The best scenario possible is the present scenario, where in all round development in various sectors like health, education road infrastructure, small scale industries and tourism in three regions will get boost. Besides, common man, local artisans, small scale workers will have upper hand. This will facilitate their more important role at regional as also national level. The common people will be the decision makers not the politicians.
Q: What should Indians specifically do and not do to make India stable and strong?
A: The common people, particularly our youth must contribute towards nation-building by giving their best in their respective fields. Also every citizen should propagate idea of nationalism and rise above the caste politics. We should not fall prey to hate propaganda of enemies. Indian media must play its vital positive role due for achieving the mission of united and strong India.
In new world order, India must emerge as manufacturing hub.
Q: What are the challenges before our nation?
A: The challenge before the government is to address the issues like defence planning and preparedness. Recent appointment of CDS is the first step in this direction
Q: What are the reasons that the countries around the globe aspire to develop the advance and critical technologies?
A: Technology acts as deterrence in peace, an option in crisis and an edge in war. It also is an important pillar for sustainable development, uplift of society and eradication of poverty.
Q: How DRDO has grown over the years and What is its relevance in the country in the present world order?
A: DRDO, started its journey in 1958 as an inspection agency and it has now turned into a massive defence technology hub in five vertical fields i.e, Land, Air, Sea, Space and Unconventional Warfare. Moreover, the successful launch of Anti Satellite Missile (A-SAT) on March 27, 2019 under Mission Shakti is glaring example of its achievement.
Q: Your mantra for people to meet emerging challenges in J&K and the country?
A: Mantra for the youth is:
Gear up to face challenges, never give up, dream high and be innovative. Hard work, dedication and diligence are keys to success and never bow down to failures.
(Starline Syndicate Service)
O P Sharma