The Prime Minister, Shri I K Gujral has complimented the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for its achievements towards realizing the goal of self-reliance in defense. Inaugurating the three-day biennial conference of DRDO Directors here today, he said the country is proud of DRDO whose scientists, both the known and unnamed have built the foundation, of our defense. It has made us feel more safe, secure, and self-reliant, he said.

Emphasizing the critical need for self-reliance especially in defense, the Prime Minister recalled that history has taught us that whenever we had lost it was not because of lack of valor but lack of technology. He pointed out that since the 1962 war, DRDO has come a long way beginning with the manufacture of uniforms and simple weapons.

Shri Gujral said that science and technology are the crucial areas of the future. In various areas technology has been denied to us, he said. However, our scientists have faced those challenges and developed the products indigenously, he added. Reiterating that self-reliance is central to our foreign policy, he further pointed out that arms and technology from abroad could never make any nation proud.

The Prime Minister said that research and development is fast changing and there is a need to keep pace with it. He said that when the country is celebrating the 50th year of Independence, the nation is confident that the legacy of our freedom fighters who had overthrown the colonial regime is being taken further by our scientists through achieving self-reliance. In his address, the Defence Minister, Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav stressed that while there could be a resource crunch in the country, it would be our responsibility to find resources for meeting the top priorities like the defense needs. Shri Yadav complimented the jawans for discharging their duties undermost trying conditions,

The Defence Minister noted that some powers in the world may not be happy about our progress. He complimented the Prime Minister for making it clear during his recent visit abroad that India cannot be cowed down. He said that the scientists have met great challenges in their efforts to make the country self-reliant. He pointed out that while in the eighties India was denied the Super Computer, our scientists have now developed a far better Super Computer at a lesser cost indigenously. He said that there is no lack of talent in the country and the scientists have contributed not merely to defense but also the other sectors.

Addressing the meeting the Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam said that the objective of the conference would be to further strengthen the partnership between DRDO, defense production, and the user agencies. It would also discuss the changing threat perceptions and technology transfer issues. He pointed out that DRDO with its 52 laboratories all over the country has had to combat the technology restrictive regime and made a significant breakthrough in several critical areas like microprocessor chips and indigenous development of electronics. He said that the production value of DRDO's efforts was to the tune of Rs.1500 crore last year.

Briefing the meeting about some of the achievements of DRDO he said the ‘PRITHVI' missile for the army is under production. ‘TRISHUL', ‘NAG' and ‘AKASH' missiles are expected to be ready by next year. He informed the meeting that the first flight of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is likely in the next few months. The Prime Minister and Dr. Abdul Kalam paid compliments to the retiring Chief of the Army, Gen Shankar Roychowdhury for his encouragement to the efforts of DRDO. The Prime Minister also presented a memento to the Army Chief.

The Prime Minister also gave away several awards on this occasion. Scientist of the year award for 1995 and 1996 was presented to 20 scientists. They are Dr. M Vidyasagar, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics; Shri R C Chakraborty, Image Processing; Dr. K K Srivastava, Life Sciences; Dr. K K Srivastava, Electromagnetics; Shri P G Shrotri, Armaments; Shri M B Singh, Management, Dr. 0 P Ni Jhawan, instrumentation; Shri I N Sitaram, Electronics; Shri Sharad Mahadev Wele, Engineering; Dr. A R Reddy, Basic Sciences; Shri Ajoy Ranan, Flight Sciences; Dr. K Neelakantan, Computer Sciences; Shri P K Biswas, Engineering; Dr. A Venugopal Reddy, Metallurgy; Dr. R C Malhotra, Basic Sciences; Dr. Ram Kurnar, Management; Dr. V P Singh, Training and Information, Shri S K Ray, Missile; Shri MR Joshi, Engineering; and Shri V S Sethi, Armament.

The Prime Minister also presented DRDO Laboratory Awards for 1996. The Silicon Trophy was given to Armament Research Development Establishment, Pune, and the Titanium Trophy to Field Research Laboratory, Leh. The Technology Transfer and Assimilation Awards for 1995, 1996, and 1997 were also presented.

The Minister of State for Defence, Shri N V N Senu presented two publications. Earlier the Prime Minister witnessed an impressive display of DRDO products at the Army Parade Ground here. These included Main Battle Tank ‘ARJUN', Surface-to-Surface Missle System ‘PRITHVI, Pilotless Target Aircraft ‘LAKSHAYA', Remotely Piloted Vehicle ‘NlSHANT' and the Multi barrel Rocket System, ‘PINAKA'.

Date: September 28,1997