The Augusta – Westland deal (3,500 crores for 12 helicopters) is yet another case of corruption in the Indian system. New names keep cropping up regularly in the case, leaving the Defence Minister A.K. Antony wringing his hands in helplessness.
The calls for involving private sector companies in building defence equipment in India are getting louder. India has become the world’s largest recipient of arms in recent years. On the other hand, China, which held the top spot in 2006, has now fallen to fourth. Several TATA group companies, L&T, Mahindra, Reliance and others are showing increasing capabilities in developing defence equipment. The army, however, doesn’t seem too excited.
The Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO), Defence PSUs (DPSU) and ordnance factory boards (OFBs) hold virtually a monopoly in supplying arms to the Indian army. However, these entities are plagued with corruption, inefficiency and bias. Less than 3% employees in the DRDO hold a Ph.D. An acquaintance of mine has visited the DRDO a few years ago and said a lot of time is spent by employees chatting, sleeping or lazing around. All this while almost 30% procurement and 100% R&D for arms lies in the DRDO’s hands. The DPSUs and OFBs are no better. This is a large point of concern.
|3,500 crore for 12 choppers - Augusta Westland deal|
Senior officials say middlemen thrive in defence deals because foreign companies do not have the bandwidth to wade through red tapism and corruption in India. India must start developing in house defence equipment. We can’t build all equipment ourselves; some arms still need to be imported. But by doing this, India will reduce dependence on other nations and corruption in this field. We are easily the best software exporters in the world. That expertise can surely be utilized by the defence sector to develop state-of-the-art arms and help India stand shoulder to shoulder with the world. Our soldiers deserve to be better equipped wherever they are deployed.
What do you think?