This was the first exhibition of this sort held by the DRDO - or so it was claimed.
I drove my car up to the gate but was told to find parking "elsewhere". I say this because I deliberately want to point out the blinkered innocence ("Koopamanduka" - "frog in a well" attitude) followed by many in government circles. Bangalore has one Pakistan worth of car sales in a a year and lack of parking for the public in an exhibition area is a serious minus point. The same "frog in well" koopamunduka attitude is shown by my own friends and relatives in Bangalore when they send out an invitation to a housewarming ceremony. they have a map on the back that shows how to get to their spanking new home from the "21B bus stop". Apart from their own cook and driver - nobody else will travel on that bus and nobody knows what 21 B does. But there you are - people living in the past.
You call the public for an exhibition and expect students and young educated techie types to come. they are not going to come in bus 21 B.
After I found parking I tried top go in with a camera and was asked to leave my camera and cellphone outside. I was one of the early visitors - hardly a dozen people had gone in by then and people were already being turned away for carrying cellphones in a city in which everyone = from plumbers assitant to CEO has at least one phone.
I had such a rant at the gate that a senior security officer was summoned after which he said that he would personally keep my camera in his locker but I could take my cellphoe in and instructed the guard not to bother about cellphones with cameras Thsi officer was very polite - but so was I. I was having a polite rant.
He asked me to speak to the exhibition director.
I sought out the organisers and had a long rant. (They were all polite) I told them that
a) On the one hand the DRDO is exhibiting things like DRDO made Paveway type LGB guidance kits and futuristic UAVs.
b) On the other hand DRDO has a bad name in the press.
So I asked, if you guys are doing so much good work why the hell don't you allow cameras in allow people to take photos and spread the word?
Initially I got some of the most absurd replies to this from some of the senior people present:
1) The press are against us so if we allow cameras in they will only give us bad publicity
2) Spies are everywhere and they will send information to enemy nations
3) Bomb blasts have occured in Assam so cameras are insecure.
Naturally - being the oiseaule that I am I did not stop arguing and accept these silly answers.
Once again I informed them of a "koopamanduka" atitude being displayed by people with regard to thsie things. I gave the example of Aero India - which has pretty much the same things displayed, where cameras are allowed. I also pointed out how the Su 30 has been photographed inside out and the pictures are available as a book.
The DRDO people seem to be unaware that they have some friends and some people who are willing to be sympathetic and offer praise where praise is due. Their attitudes appear to be comatose and they seem to have completely missed the internet revolution in which the World Wide Web is used to disseminate information and bypass the traditional press.
Having pushed them into a piskological corner I started getting some more realistic explanations of why they acted like blind men.
I was told that security policies would make lower downs scapegoats if certain rules were transgressed - in other words the blindness is from the top down. Delhi's blindness and koopamanuka-ness is transmitted to all government orgs.
Secondly, it appears that the DRDO has been stung so sooo badly by press attacks that they are now afraid of the press. Instead of going all out to win a press war - they have gone into wound licking mode saying 'We don;t need publicity". This is a seriously bad attitude for the DRDO because it can be taken as an admission that they are ALL worthless nicompoops - which they are not. And with their complete ignorance of how the internet can be used - "blinkered" (koopamandka) is the only word that can express the feeling that I got.
Finally I was once again given a glimpse of a weird attitude that I have previously come across from DRDO types. This is the attitude of a person who has been critcised so badly, and he is so completely clueless about defending himself that he starts reasoning that the criticism is good because it allows his to "secretly" develop things while everyone thinks he is stupid and that he can suddenly come out and show his brilliance.
This, sadly is the attitude of a defeated person.I have seen more than one DRDO person saying this and it means that the press has successfully bashed the morale of the DRDO into the ground. This is sad because many young and middle level people are sincere and have worked hard to develop thousands of sub systems. The lack of vision in not allowing cameras prevetnts the wider world from finding out what those sub-systems are, while the fear of the press makes the DRDO think that they do not need publicity, what's worse is that they feel they have no friends and that any publicity will be bad.
In other words India has in this day and age taken thousands of young enginers, made them work and created an untouchable underclass out of them making them feel apologetic and hounded for working for the DRDO.
If this is not crass leadership and a callous public and press - I don't know what it is. In my view - it is just plain wrong. India cannot afford to do this to its own people.