A Rs. 1,000-crore or 10 per cent budget cut under the government’s austerity clamp for the second year running has kept the DRDO poorer by about 700 entry-level scientists in the last two years.

This may push back some of its prestigious missile and aircraft development programmes, according to a top DRDO official.

The DRDO’s hiring arm, the Delhi-based Recruitment and Assessment Centre, planned to induct 350 young engineers each year in 2012-13 and 2013-14, mainly for its missile and aeronautics labs.

Admitting a shortage of young scientists, RAC Chairman D.N. Reddy told The Hindu, “We have many new and important projects which will now be delayed for want of manpower.”

Frontline hits of this could be the long-range Agni-VI targeted for 2016, the Light Combat Aircraft set for completion in 2015 and the Futuristic Main Battle Tank.

The 35,000-strong DRDO, with 8,000 scientists, gets 6.5 per cent of the defence budget or about Rs. 10,000 crore; this year, the belt-tightening measures have kept back 1 per cent of the funds.

The hiring proposals were cleared by the Prime Minister’s Office. However, the Finance Ministry’s all-round slash on spending has halted the RAC’s drive until the middle of 2014, Dr. Reddy said.

Instead, it has to be content with about 70 recruits only to fill the vacancies created by retiring staff; half of them go directly into the priority areas of missiles and aircraft.

Only short-term

“The financial implications are only of short duration. After June 2014, we are confident that our needs will be met,” he reasoned on the sidelines of a conference on condition monitoring here on Friday.

Every December, RAC picks the cream of graduates from 16 IITs, the Indian Institute of Science and the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, Pune. Now the entry-level staff are just a few hundred in number.

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