Vijay Kumar Saraswat is an Indian scientist who formerly served as the Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Indian Minister of Defence. He retired on 31 May 2013. and presently Member of NITI Aayog i.e. Planning Commission of India.
Saraswat is the key scientist in the development of the Prithvi missile and its induction in the Indian armed forces. He is a recipient of the Padma Shri from the Government of India.
Born in 1949 in a Marwari Brahmin family at Danaoli Locality in Gwalior (M.P.), Dr. Saraswat completed his Bachelors in Engineering from Madhav Institute of Technology & Science, Gwalior, MTech from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore and obtained a Doctorate in Propulsion Engineering from Osmania University. .
Dr. Saraswat, a Ph.D. in Combustion Engineering, started his career in DRDO in 1972 at the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad and was responsible for the development of country’s first Liquid Propulsion Engine, DEVIL. As Project Director of Prithvi, he steered the design, development, production and induction of the first indigenous Surface-to-Surface missile system into the armed forces. He is regarded as one of the key scientists in the team of former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, who himself was the Secretary, Department of Defence R&D, DRDO HQrs and is considered to have a deep influence on him.
The successful testing of Dhanush missile on board a moving ship with high terminal accuracy brought a new dimension in the national defence capability. As Program Director AD (Air Defence), Saraswat pioneered the concept of theatre defence system and integration of national Air Defence elements. He was Director,Research Centre Imarat (RCI) before taking over as CCR&D(MSS) in November, 2005. He established facilities for design, production and testing of engines and the RCS technologies for the missile applications.
Under the able leadership of Dr Saraswat, India has embarked on a challenging, futuristic Air Defence Programme encompassing development of complex anti-ballistic missile systems, radars, C41 systems and integration of battle management resources into a national authority. As Programme Director, he has spearheaded the concept of theatre defence systems and integration of national Air Defence elements. As Director, Research Centre Imarat, Hyderabad, he conceptualised and established facilities for development of Micro and Nano Sensors for future avionics.
Dr Saraswat is fellow of National Academy of Engineering, Aeronautical Society of India, Astronautical Society of India, and Institution of Engineers. He is a member of governing council of SAMEER and member of Board of Research of AICTE, CSIR labs, and board of studies of Osmania University. He is Chairman, Combustion Institute (Indian Section), and Aeronautical Society of India (Hyderabad Branch). Dr. Saraswat is a forerunner in the development of number of critical missile technologies that were under denial due to the Missile Technology Control Regime, thus making India self-reliant in Missile Technologies. He has headed various committees of national importance.
Dr Saraswat is the recipient of DRDO Scientist of the Year Award - 1987, National Aeronautical Prize - 1993, DRDO Technology Transfer Award - 1996 and Performance Excellence Award - 1999. For his outstanding contributions to the Nation, he has been conferred with Padma Shri in 1998.He was also conferred with Padma Bhusan by the Govt. of India in 2013.In January 2010 & December 2012 he was awarded with honorary doctorate from Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat & SRM University chennai respectively.
Honoris Causa was conferred upon him by more than 18 Universities including Andhra University (Visakhapatnam), NIT Surat. He has also authored and presented several papers for at National & International level journals / conferences and guided eight Ph.D Scholars.Dr Saraswat presently is the Member NITI Aayog and shouldering many Honorary positions in Government and Academic Institutions.