Acharya - try this: "how long should the R&D guys be given?"
interpretation one: R&D is a waste of time, buy foreign
interpretation two: how long should one invest in some technology before taking a realistic look at what has been achieved and what potential remains?
Realistic and Pragmatic look has to be there at all times and in all project spheres. Asking for a realistic look at what has been achieved at DRDO is nothing but applying a cliche very narrowly. It is futile to even discuss it.
I can say the same cliche needs to be applied to:
1. All the commissioned officers in the Army, Air Force and the Navy
2. Acquisition of Rambhas by Airforce
3. Acquisition of Vikramaditya by Navy
4. The need of the army itself! Why not sign an agreement with <insert your fav. country> to not to attack India and respect its borders
5. The need of the navy itself! Why not sign several international treaties to protect the littoral waters of India!
Do we see how ridiculous it gets?
The questions I have for resident R-and-D experts [Rona & Dhona (TM)] is why do not they question:
1. The NASA space shuttle program? It has managed to kill on an average 1 astronaut every year over its operational lifetime?
1a. What about the Brazilians? They have managed to kill off several of their people even without launching a proper rocket. And guess what they are a member of ISS!!!
2. Why not question the EuroFighter itself? Why do those Europeans need those fighters. They have been at peace since half a century.
3. Why does the US need the JSF and F/22? Why is it pushing the boundaries on the latest R&D? Why is two separate development contract awarded for building the JSF? One to Boeing and one to LM! Wasn't that waste of "precious resources"?
I remember the day when Deve Gowda went down to Bangalore and approved Rs. 600 Cr. to LCA!!! That was a good thing, at least it is attracting several people to show up for AI 07 today and paying several thousand dollars to the local industry. Heck if AI 07 generated 600 Cr. for Bangalore localites, and if LCA was a catalyst too it, may be we need more such LCA programmes!
The thing with real R&D is that it is very difficult to put a straight cost and benefit analysis over it. Classically, the drive for moon resulted in better ICs and that has provided jobs for millions. The bottomline is, India needs to not just spend money behind the R&D both basic and applied but also needs to increase it.
India needs to start not just the LCA programme but also the MCA programme and to give a shot in arm to HAL, should start I say BAL [Bharat Aeronautics Ltd (TM)] with LCAII and MCA-II programmes and ask them to square off. That may be a solution.
And one spin off will be, it will definitely provide post-retirement benefits to several Ajai-jis right from their armchair!!!