Hand Wringing in India Over Defense R&D Brain Drain

NEW DELHI—Is India's defense R&D establishment hemorrhaging scientists? According to a report yesterday in The Times of India, 20 top researchers with the Indian Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) have left the organization since July for more lucrative careers in areas like information technology.

This high turnover of scientists, experts suggest, will blunt DRDO's ability to do quality work. DRDO is a collective of 52 laboratories with a workforce of over 7500 scientists and an annual budget of about $1.8 billion, best known for making India's ballistic missiles, a fighter plane, and a nuclear-powered submarine.

In a press statement issued today, DRDO downplayed the exodus, saying that the scientists who left for greener pastures were not among its highest echelon. "No top level scientist has left the organization in recent years," except through retirement, a DRDO statement said. "The issue is not a cause for concern." But independent observers say it cannot be a good sign if DRDO is finding it difficult to retain young talent.