Two months after it sacked Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Avinash Chander, the government has denied extension to a top DRDO scientist. Bikash Bhattacharya, who was on his first extension as the director of Pune-based High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), retired Tuesday. Besides him, the government in the past six months has denied extension to at least three top DRDO scientists.
While Chander was sacked unceremoniously citing the need for appointing younger scientists, the Modi government has on several platforms made public its intentions to streamline DRDO.
Sources in DRDO said the HEMRL director’s extension was recommended by Chander and was considered by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC). It was, however, rejected by the government “about 10 days ago”. Bhattacharya was formerly associated with ISRO.
Bhattacharya, 62, who took over as director, HEMRL on September 11, 2011 was already on one extension after he completed 60 years on March 23, 2013. As per DRDO’s existing promotion policy, two extensions are permitted for a tenure of two years after the scientist completes 60 years, the retirement age.
Bhattacharya is the fourth scientist to have been denied extension by the Modi government in the past six months. Others who were denied extension are directors of Defence Research & Development Establishment (DRDE), Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (DEBEL) and Electronics & Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) — M P Kaushik, V C Padaki and Venkatnarayana Raju, respectively.
The denial of extensions by the Modi government has reversed the trend of the UPA government which was criticised for making extensions a “norm” instead of an “exception”. In 2012 for instance, 11 top scientists were on extension at various laboratories across the country.