New Delhi: V S Arunachalam, a former DRDO director general, died in the US on Wednesday, his family said in a statement. He was 87.
“With great sadness and a sense of immense loss, we would like to convey the demise of Dr V S Arunachalam. He passed away peacefully in his sleep surrounded by close family in California,” the statement said.
His distinguished career spanned across Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), National Aeronautical Laboratory, and Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory.
Arunachalam helmed the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and was the Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister from 1982-92.
He was conferred the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award (1980), Padma Bhushan (1985), and Padma Vibhushan (1990) for his contribution to engineering science and technology.
In addition to being the first Indian Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK), Arunachalam served as a member of the advisory and editorial boards of several universities and foundations, including the Materials Research Society Bulletin.
“Deeply grieved to learn of the passing away of Dr. V S Arunachalam, former Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri. Was a mentor to so many on defence, technology and nuclear matters.
“Had the privilege of working closely with him, especially on the India-US relationship. Our trip across the United States in 1986 is among the memories that I treasure,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar posted on X, formerly Twitter.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said succeeding Raja Ramanna, Arunachalam guided and shaped the DRDO for a decade during 1982-92, a position occupied thereafter by Dr A P J Abdul Kalam.
“Dr. Arunachalam enjoyed a very warm relationship with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, especially. He came to DRDO after a distinguished career in BARC and CSIR. He had a wonderful sense of humour and had a great ability to communicate scientific ideas in language understandable by non-scientists as well,” Ramesh said.
He launched three major programmes: Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) under an autonomous body Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA); Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) Programme; and IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missiles Development Programme) to develop a family of strategic and tactical guided missiles.
In 2015, Arunachalam was awarded DRDO’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the field of scientific research and technology.