India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) chief, Avinash Chander was terminated by the government on Tuesday abruptly 15 months before his contract was to end.
The Cabinet committee for Appointments headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the termination of the contract with effect from January 31, an official note said.
Speaking to media, Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar today said, “The tenure of the DRDO chief would normally have ended in November, but the previous Union Cabinet had approved a three-year extension to his term, with the additional years being on a contract basis.”
“I recommended that a person on contract should not be occupying such a senior position. This senior position should be filled by other eligible senior persons. There is no controversy here,” he added.
Chander is on contract as DRDO chief and was due to serve till May 31, 2016, after retiring on November 30, 2014.
The decision has come as a surprise to many scientists as Chander is believed to be instrumental in making India a missile power against all odds after it was denied technology and had to face sanctions after its 1998 nuclear test.
"I have not received any letter or order terminating my services till now. I cannot comment on the reasons but it's the government's prerogative. I joined DRDO in August 1972 and would consider the missile program my biggest achievement," Avinash Chander was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Chander is likely to be replaced by Sekhar Basu, Director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre who was been part of the designing the prototype nuclear reactor for India’s submarine, INS Arihant.
Chander has been part of DRDO's projects such as the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Nag missile, long-range surface-to-air missile project and the Airborne Early Warning and Control System projects have been delayed by many years and seen several cost overruns.