‘Additional charge’ syndrome grips Modi govt: RK Mathur for DRDO, Suvarna Raju for HAL

Written by: Dr Anantha Krishnan M

Bengaluru, Jan 30: Continuing with its stream of 'Additional Charge Appointments,' the Narendra Modi government on Friday sprang yet another surprise.

Defence Secretary R K Mathur was handed over additional charge of Department of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for a period of three months.


Dr Avinash Chander will step down as the DRDO Chief on Saturday, 31 January, with the government scouting for a young brain to run the show. In the new scheme of things, the DRDO chief might not now act as the Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister.

Government's Friday's announcement is contrary to the earlier reports in a section of the media that that DRDO's senior-most Director-General (Aero) Dr K Tamilmani might be handed over the temporary charge, after Dr Chander's exit.

Dr Chander was busy reviewing the last-minute preparations for the canisterised version (cold launch) of the surface-to-surface Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-5.

Weather permitting, the third launch of Agni-V will be held on Saturday from Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast. "The launch is tentatively fixed at 8 am," an official told OneIndia.

Suvarna Raju too gets Additional Charges

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) too will have a new Chairman from Saturday evening with the ACC handing over the additional charge to T Suvarna Raju, who is currently the Director Design.

Defence secy gets addl charge of DRDO

Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources confirmed to OneIndia that Raju has been given the additional responsibilities for three months.

Interestingly, the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) had in September 15, 2015 short-listed Raju's name as the next Chairman of HAL. Dr R K Tyagi will superannuate on Saturday, January 31.

Again, no reason was known why Raju wasn't given the full charge. MoD sources confirmed that Raju's final orders will be issued soon making him a full-fledged Chairman.

ISRO too had the same story

The government had on January 2 this year appointed Dr Shailesh Nayak as the Secretary, Department of Space (DoS) and Chairman Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This move came after the retirement of Dr K Radhakrishnan on December 31, 2014.

Dr Nayak was asked to hold the additional charge of ISRO along with his permanent posting as Secretary in Ministry of Earth Sciences. He was handed over a one-month tenure to run the affairs of ISRO.

Exactly 10 days later, the government appointed A S Kiran Kumar as the new Secretary, DoS and ISRO for a period of three years.

Trend started with the defence minister

The Modi government began the innings in May this year by handing over the crucial Defence Ministry's charge to Arun Jaitely, who had also the responsibility of being India's Finance Minister.

Six months later, in November, Manohar Parrikar was asked to shift base from Goa and take charge as the full-fledged Defence Minister. During all these ‘temporary appointment exercises,' the government offered no explanation behind the logic of such decisions.

Our Take:

• Key decision-making positions must be filled on priority and stand-by appointments will only add to the confusion.

• Country's defence preparedness is top priority and strong leadership plays a pivotal role.

• When PESB recommends a suitable candidate for the top post(s) six months in advance (in the case of HAL), the delay in clearing the credential(s) of the candidate will fetch bad publicity for the government.

• Time for Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) to take a re-look at its laborious processes.

(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)

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