Def Minister’s inquiry in DRDO’s TOT could open can of worms

Prateek Goyal
Friday, 4 May 2018

Many old TOTs by DRDO given to industries will be under the scanner.

Pune: Recently, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ordered inquiry about the Transfer of Technologies (TOT) during Defence ministers AK Anthony and Manohar Parrikar’s tenures. Many old TOTs by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) given to industries allegedly on the pretext of it being new, will be under the scanner and could open a can of worms. 

The inquiry was ordered after a news report about the repetitions of TOT by DRDO at the Defence Expo held at Chennai in April.

Similiarly, in year 2013, one of the TOTs in question of an explosive device kit prepared by High Enegy Material Laboratory (HEMRL) Pune received a lot of media attention after the signing of MoU with a US-based company. 

Sakal Times has found out that a propaganda of TOT was promoted inorder to boost the image of DRDO after the corruption and nepostism in it was exposed by the audit report of Comptroller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) in 2012.In order to Boost the image of DRDO Avinash Chander,the then director of DRDO in year 2013 served the old wine in new bottle and created a propoganda for reverse technology transfer to USA by forged TOT of explosive device kit prepared at HEMRL, Pune.

According to documents with Sakal Times, the patent for EDK was falsified and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed with one South Carolina-based company - which was actually a car accessories’ company with only two employees. 

Murky background 
HEMRL developed the EDK technology and applied to patent it in March 1996. In February 2010, the EDK was patented in the name of its inventors - Rabindra Kumar Sinha, Jaman Singh Gharia, Usha Devi Ramchandran Nair and Hira Lal Yadav. 

Despite this, HEMRL falsely credited the innovation on the name of another scientist who was not the inventor - Reny M Roy - and was sent to America. The letter from HEMRL stated that she is the team leader and her presence in USA for the demonstration is necessary.
Roy claims this is wrong information. “The team had not completed their work, it was us who made it operational. Nothing is on anybody’s name, please don’t do such things as DRDO is doing good work,” she said. 

Sinha, one of the inventors of EDK, said, “We completed the project and we don’t know why our name has not come and it doesn’t affect us.” 

The DRDO director in 2013, when the MOU was signed, Avinash Chander, is currently based in Hyderabad and defended his actions saying, “I am not responsible for this, I was not the head of HEMRL lab. You should ask the concerned director.”

Propaganda and repeated MOU of TOT 
 2011: HEMRL signed the first MOU with Crowe and Company, a Summerville,South Carolina-based car accessory and consulting services company with annual revenue of USD 1 lakh and has two employees. The MOU was signed between the then HEMRL director Shubhanand Rao and Fay Crow, who was the president of Crowe and company. It is significant to note that before signing the MOU with Crowe and company, DRDO signed a licensing agreement for EDK with a NOIDA based company by the name of Vantage Integrated Security Solutions-which used to deal in the assembling of CCTV Cameras
 2012: Controller General of Defence Accounts audit reveals large scale corruption in DRDO projects and VK Saraswat, the then Director General was relieved from his services. The new Director Avinash Chander again signed an MOU with Crowe and Company in Washington DC. 
 2013:The new Director Avinash Chander again signed an MOU with Crowe and Company in Washington DC. A big function was organized by the DRDO at US Chamber of Commerce building. A dinner party was also hosted by the then Indian Ambassador to Amercia Nirupama Roy for DRDO official and family members of Fay Crowe. A delegation of a dozen scientist including Chander, Roy and Satish Naik, a Technical officer took part in the event.
 2015: Chander was sacked by the then Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar. DRDO team comprised Chander, Reny Roy and Satish Naik, technical officer in addition to nine officials 

DRDO’s explanation
 Though DRDO claims that no explanation was demanded from them, Directorate of Public Interface (DPI) of DRDO has sent an explanatory letter to Defence Minister dated April 23. 
 The letter stated that TOT’s were not repeated during the Defence Expo 2018, and that earlier the technology was demonstrated to clients and later a proposal for TOT was sent to them.
 DRDO spokesperson Manish Bhardwaj told Sakal Times, “No such inquiry has been ordered by Honourable Raksha Mantri on this matter. The news report refereed by you is factually incorrect. A rebuttal was already sent to the concerned media by the Directorate of Public Relations (DPR), Ministry of Defence.”

Prateek Goyal

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