Urging the country's only defence research agency to give more opportunities to the youth, the Prime Minister suggested that DRDO should take initiatives in projects which would help in easing the lives of the armed forces personnel.
"The time demands... the world will not wait for us. We have to run ahead of time. That is why whatever we do, we should try hard to do it before time. It should not be so that a project is conceived in 1992 and in 2014 (we say) it will take some more time. The world will go ahead," Modi said in his address to DRDO in its award function.
The Prime Minister said technology in defence sector was changing fast and even before we conceptualise a system, "products which are two steps ahead come in the market and we are left behind."
"That is why the challenge before India is that how do we complete work before time. If the world is coming up with some products in 2020, can we come in the field prepared with products in 2018," he said.
Modi said the, "DRDO has to decide whether it has to respond to the situation or it has to be proactive and set agenda for the world and we have to set agenda for the global committee... We can be the world leader by not following but by showing the way."
He said it was not that India lacked the talent pool but "I think there is this 'chalta hai' (lackadaisical) attitude".
Several DRDO 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.
Drawing parallels between his government and the DRDO, the Prime Minister said, "People say that Modiji, we have lot of hopes and expectations from your government. People will have hopes from people who work as nobody would have hopes from people who don't do anything. I have hopes from DRDO because I know that DRDO has the capability to perform."
Seeking to give more responsibilities to the youth, the Prime Minister urged the DRDO to make provisions that in five out of its 52 labs people with only less than 35 years of age are employed and the power of ultimate decision-making is also vested in them.
"Lets us take a bold decision by giving the youth an opportunity. We will tell them that the world is going ahead, you show us (the way). The youth is highly capable and it can deliver. 20-25 year old youth would do very well in cyber security area as they are oriented towards that and the results will be very good," he said.
"We have taken several risks, let us take one more risk an we will see. There is need for fresh air to be infused and this will help us all," Modi said.
He said the DRDO should develop a mechanism where it should take ideas for developing products from the armed forces personnel as they are the ultimate users of these systems and "a soldier can suggest many practical innovations in defence technology."
Modi also called upon DRDO to engage actively with identified universities for exchange and spread of values and ideas from one generation to another "sanskar sankraman" (percolation of scientific culture).
He suggested that a special robot competition be conducted, dedicated to defence matters only to encourage the youth to think in the field of defence technology.
At the awards ceremony, the Prime Minister also urged the DRDO to create awards for people who are working in the defence sector but are not associated with the research agency in any manner.
The Prime Minister also gave awards to several DRDO scientists and vendors in different categories.
On the occasion, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said the DRDO offered a large talent pool for the defence sector in the country but in view of the "disturbed neighbourhood" shared by India, it seems too "inadequate in terms of numbers".
He said national security was the top priority of the government and technology was the best guarantor for the country to provide security.
Jaitley said DRDO has achieved a lot in the last five decades in terms of the Agni-5 missile, INS Arihant nuclear submarine and various other programmes.
He said the government wants India to be a hub of defence manufacturing and a number of steps such as increasing FDI cap in defence sector and delicensing the military manufacturing sector have been taken.
So far the country has been doing some research and some defence manufacturing but the process was slow and there was more reliance on imports for meeting weapon systems' requirement, he said.
Jaitley said the government was actively considering the performance-related incentive scheme proposed by the DRDO for its better-performing scientists and allowing induction of more scientists in the organisation.
DRDO chief Avinash Chander had flagged the issue of low intake of only 70 young scientists in the organisation every year in his speech.
Chander said the value of products developed by it is worth Rs 1.69 lakh crore and as per Prime Minister's directives, the agency was working towards indigenising the military equipment requirements of the armed forces.