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Reverse brain-drain helping DRDO

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, MARCH 25. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) seems to be benefiting from a reverse brain-drain. Over the past few years, 19 young scientists and technical experts returning from overseas have joined this organisation.

W. Selvamurthy, Chief Controller (Research and Development), DRDO, told presspersons here on Thursday that the high attrition rate of those employed in the organisation's work related to information and communication technology and life sciences was being reversed. "Part of this could be because of the IT (information technology boom) fading in the West," he said.

There were other motivations too for those who had worked abroad and had earned enough. There were better opportunities at home now for those specialising in electronics and mechanical engineering, biotechnology, and other life sciences. "Some have personal and family compulsions to return home and some genuinely want to give something back to their country,'' Mr. Selvamurthy said.

The DRDO units were currently engaged in "frontier areas" of research where the experience of those who had overseas stints with leading international research organisations came in handy. The DRDO itself had a more liberal attitude now about individual scientists obtaining patents and publishing their research papers; these boosted their self-esteem.

About DRDO parting with its research to the private sector, Mr. Selvamurthy said the organisation had its C-TEC (Centre for Technology Exchange and Commercialisation) so that research benefited more people. "When we develop a coronary artery stent at lower cost than others in the market, or formulate a nutritional drink for soldiers serving in high altitudes or a more effective mosquito repellent for personnel in the North-east, there is no reason why the research should not benefit civilians,'' he explained.

The DRDO has a partnership with the pharmaceutical industry and has been sharing its expertise in life sciences with companies such as Ranbaxy, Dabur, Himalaya, and Lupin. The DRDO's sharing of patents has earned it over Rs. 40 crore in recent years.

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