Surya, with due respect, what Kaul is saying in that case is pure hogwash and typical of how the civilian MOD-Army mistrust ire is directed at the most frivolous of issues and against the DRDO etc.
The DRDO has to have a minimum level of capex even on decent looking infra for two reasons - one, every org has a dog & pony show infra set up for foreign dignitaries to visit etc when trying to present India as a decent alternative to jointly work on research projects on, the usual "simple living high thinking" stuff, falls flat there. This is something most Indian companies have realized.
Second, the young joinees in DRDO expect a minimum work environment, with decent new infrastructure and workplace environs. They will otherwise benchmark against Infy etc and leave - "no money and even the place sucks" etc. For GOI institutions, retaining and hiring experienced or even good young talent with high expectations, is a constant challenge. Kaul is also clearly ignoring how glitzy many of the Army's own places are - spanking clubs, halls, with all sorts of traditions maintained which cannot be afforded by the up and coming clubs with huge membership fees. The reason nobody picks on them is because they play an invaluable role in maintaining esprit de corps. Similarly, I have been to several "service institutions" in India over the past decade, as would have many here - they make the facilities earlier at DRDO or the DPSU "halls", pale in comparison.
Basically, DRDO etc need to spend on such infrastructure - both at the HQ and lab level. Making do with the usual chalta hain, leaking walls, 1970's era building with another layer of "choona" applied, will not do.
The other thing is how Kaul totally misidentifies what is happening with investments and ties it to frivolous grounds. DRDO is not going to come out and say how much it spent on acquiring an engine tech or a widget - it obviously cannot. So in turn, even otherwise informed gents use the spending on things like a new HQ to imply those funds are being diverted here! Which is not the case, and second, even the former spending is often criticized.
I have often heard from otherwise senior, personnel as to why DRDO or any research firm needs money - "isnt their salary sufficient", often said with the implication that the money is being therefore misspent.
The problem is these gents - like many other, otherwise very competent service officers, have little understanding of how expensive even basic infrastructure is when it comes to development, and the amounts required when the sophistication scales up.
I once mentioned how much a company usually invests in a state of the art fab to give these guys an idea of how underinvested the Indian hitech sector was, and they were shocked. "They have so many Phd's, what is the use" - cue laughter. Ask the Phd, and he'll say he is waiting for his application to a pvt job come through - better money, and at least, he has the tools for his job. In GOI, his application for basic stuff has been pending with xyz for years. Things are better now in the funding side, but this misapprehension amongst the users quite clearly persists.
The problem is the Armed forces in India have so long been in user mode, with limited involvement as project managers (only the Navy extending its reach into production on a constant basis) that they neither track or monitor amount of investment required to conduct basic research on systems of systems platforms - eg a tank, let alone developing and making its systems as well, or the challenges faced when trying to source the hardware, which in almost all cases, is run by a cartel. To break the cartel, you have to either pay through your nose (which we don't do), strike political deals constantly (which we have only sometimes done) or hugely invest locally (which we don't do and when we do, it leads to carping like the above).
The amount invested in even basic production infrastructure in specific sectors can run upto a pretty penny, which is where it is particularly hilarious to even see the "indigenous" versus "reinvent the wheel" attacks that are often made on Indian programs. So, if you source components from the international market to keep costs low, and keep development times reasonable - the product is not indigenous (but somehow products like the T-90 always escape criticism versus ones like the Arjun), but if you do develop it, and on a shoestring budget and not given on time (then the obvious delays are because of reinventing the wheel and because xyz is wasteful, stupid, treasonous).
The magic words "accountability", "project management" apparently can overcome any and every challenge, including the fact that we start programs where systems are required (thanks to user requirements based on adversary threat perception) that we don't even know what we don't know.
At the same time, virulent criticism is heaped on these local programs by the users themselves, even without judging the product itself. Take a look at Aroors blog - a protege of Gupta, he was behind those virulent attacks on DRDO and still maintains a snide line against any local program - commenting anon on his blog (his trademark words and phrases make it easy to discern) and who retweets Saraswat's comment on the local BMD being similar to the Patriot3 with a comment from his "army friend" - "so it must mean that it is not very good then".
Unfortunately, the people most hurt by these are not just the developers themselves, but those who get deputed to these organizations, who are already a bit worried often about their career progression (since once outside the traditional command path, now they "belong" to the new agency in practicality) and then also have to deal with such constant snide comments from their peers. This also in turn plays a role when the agency goes looking for talent - fewer armed forces guys will then take up such roles and also fewer young graduates will go to these orgs.
The seniors within the services really need to cut down on such activities, set an example & point out what maintaining such a disaffected, non unified front does.
About the only plus I see in recent years, is the IAF-IA spat, which was becoming more and more nasty and overt seems to have taken a fall (for the better). Otherwise, every other year we'd see one rtd IA guy attacking the AF for not helping out in 62 and not being good enough at Kargil, whereas his IAF counterpart would write back a testy letter and the Pakistanis and Chinese trolls would make hay.
All said and done, things are much better today, than yesteryears. The average officer (and even jawan) coming into service is more tech savvy; he can understand more things about development and even make the transition into R&D, the developers for their part dont sit in ivory towers and actively canvass the users opinions. But things would be ideal when these guys actually sat down and understood the amounts spent in the Scorpene or Gorshkov versus what we spend locally and saw the ROI.
Sorry to use your post for this long-ish ramble, but just had to say that out..