This week I received a surprise phone call from Arun Singh, obviously shocked by Arunachalam’s name getting dragged into this ['mole' in Narasimha Rao's PMO] mess. He told me the truth behind his seemingly “abrupt” departure. He was back in the government as the head of Committee on Defence Expenditures (CDE) in the V.P. Singh and Chandra Shekhar governments and advised Arunachalam that he had been the head of DRDO for too long, 11 years, and it was not good for him, his family, or the organisation. For how long was he going to run his household on a government salary, particularly when all three of his children could study overseas. It is then, Arun Singh tells me, that the scientist told him he had a position available at Carnegie Mellon, which has one of the finest labs in his field — metallurgy, robotics and computer sciences. “We thought this was a perfect place for him to go to, as he could also work with Dr Raj Reddy who is an icon in the world of robotics and high tech. This would have also given his children an opportunity to study free in one of the best schools in the US because Arunachalam, as a faculty member, would be entitled to it.” Singh says the problem was, how to convince the prime minister to let him go and who was to be the new head of DRDO. Arunachalam met Narasimha Rao several times to convince him that he needed to leave and that he would not be missed because there was a very logical successor, albeit a bit old. That rather “old” person was none else than President A.P. J. Kalam! [bold emphasis added]
From Shekhar Gupta's column in today's Indian Express.