Speaking at a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) event here, Modi said: "The world is changing very fast and so are the parameters of war and defence. Technology is becoming a key driving force."
"I see that the big challenge is how do we complete our work before time. If the world will finish something in 2020, can we do it by 2018," he said.
"It should not happen that a programme is conceived in 1992 and in 2014 someone says it will take some more time," said the prime minister.
He said DRDO should set agenda for the world.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said: "India has a peculiar geographical location, we have lived for decades in a disturbed neighbourhood and we cannot change it."
"Our preparedness is the best guarantee for peace in south Asia region," he said.
He added that DRDO should expedite its programmes and look towards exports.
The prime minister, stressing on attracting young talent to DRDO, said scientists should be attached with universities for a period to set an example for students.
"Let us identify universities in this field and then associate a scientist with the university. It will help students."
He also said that DRDO should set up a laboratory with all scientists under the age of 35 to utilise the potential of the youth.
The prime minister also gave away the DRDO awards, with former chief controller of research and development Dipankar Banerjee getting a life time achievement award for his contribution to the fields of metallurgy, material sciences and combat aircraft programme.