It is no secret that India aspires to be a regional power. However, ambition must be backed by responsibility.A spate of accidents in the sensitive Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), have left Indians wondering whether its scientists can be trusted with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).According to Indian media, on June 19 2018, a blast took place while workers were handling explosive material at DRDO laboratory in Pune’s Hinjawadi area. Resultantly, one worker was killed and another injured. The incident occurred at the High Energy Material Research Laboratory (HEMRL), a premier unit of the DRDO. The workers were cutting and dividing explosive material into samples when it exploded. HEMRL is dedicated to research and development on high energy materials like propellants and high-power explosives as well as pyrotechnics. The laboratory has played a key role in development of Indian missile systems, including Prithvi, Agni, Akash and Nag. The lab is also used to test missile prototypes to check their propellants. The laboratory is spread over 800 acres of the land in Pashan and Sutarwadi area.The Indian government has claimed that the DRDO laboratories adhere to all safety guidelines and the workers are highly trained in handling explosive substances. However, that such incidents have taken place at sensitive installation speaks volumes about the weakness whatever safety mechanisms may or may not be in place, especially in light of numerous previous accidents. In a similar incident at the same facility in 2002, six persons, two lab technicians and four contract workers were killed in a blast in the solid rocket propellant section. In another accident in 2009, the ceiling of one of the labs was completely blown off after an explosion. On December 24 2015, three contractual workers received severe burns after an explosion caused a fire in the HEMRL Ignitor Complex.Worried Indians have started questioning the research methodology of DRDO, which has squandered millions of precious taxpayers’ money in projects which have only brought doom and gloom to their country. According to Indian media, on June 19 2018, a blast took place while workers were handling explosive material at DRDO laboratory in Pune’s Hinjawadi area. Resultantly, one worker was killed and another injuredSome classic examples of India’s R&D failures, which have reached the public domain, are the Arjun tank, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, INSAS rifle, Saras, Kaveri, Akash, Nag, Indra Radar, while numerous others have been brushed under the carpet.Main Battle Tank Arjun was designed and produced to counter Pakistan in the Western Front, where the Indian Army will have to cross the bridges of Punjab, unfortunately for the Indians, it is an overweight tank. Arjun MK1 weighs 61 tons while the Arjun MK2 is 68 tons, compared to the T90, which is 46 tons. The Arjun MK1 and MK2 both are 4 seaters: Driver, Gunner, Loader and Commander (Similar to the US M1 Abrams). But the Indian Army, due to its historical intense use of Soviet Tank models, has training of 3 seater tank models: Driver, Gunner, and Commander, the Soviet Tanks do not require a loader, as it has Auto-Loader capability. Now the Indian Army will spend billions of Dollars on training for a new tank. The DRDO has disinformation about the Arjun Tank being made indigenously in India, but one of the main reasons for its rejection was that nearly 55 percent of the parts used in the Arjun are imported from foreign countries. Like the LCA Tejas, which became obsolete even before it became operational due to its long development time, the essential components are no longer available in the international market, nor were they developed indigenously. The T-90 on the other hand, is completely made in India. The cost of Arjun is also prohibitive. Arjun MK2 costs $8.7 million, compared to the cost of a T-90 Bhisma of $4.2 million. You can buy two T-90s at the price of one Arjun MK2.The DRDO production INSAS rifle, which are standard issue for Indian Army jawans, is a fiasco as it jams more than it fires. The light transport aircraft Saras met with accidents and was shelved but has been revived by the Modi government in its “Make in India” campaign, which has already claimed millions of dollars of the exchequer’s money with little to show for it. CSIR-NAL proposes to get the SARAS-Mk 2 version certified initially for military and subsequently for civil version. The development of the aircraft engine Kaveri for the LCA Tejas is another sad tale. Thirty five years on, the Tejas is still not ready for combat. Rescheduled to make its debut in 2025, Tejas will be equipped with the 22,000-pound thrust class General Electric F414 engine, which was originally developed for the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet. These Indian defence woes have inspired cynics to label DRDO, “DODO”.The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF. He is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host, who has authored six books on current affairs, including three on ChinaPublished in Daily Times, July 14th 2018.