The Indian defence budget is on the rise but the will to buy is declining. What is impacting the Indian decision maker’s will to sign the purchase order? Is it the fear of getting caught for alleged acts of omissions and commissions? There is no denying the fact that vendors do indulge in malpractices, offering all sorts of dubious inducements to decision makers in the headquarters. Based on past examples, it can also not be denied that there have been a few officers both in the ministry of defence and service headquarters who have fallen prey to the temptations. Over the years various defence ministers and chiefs have made efforts to plug the loopholes in the system to make it more transparent, but the bad has continued to prevail over good in matters of defence purchases. The fear factor has been heightened by the all pervasive media that carries out trial in the open, in some cases maligning the arduously built reputations much before the actual trial can even begin in the courts.
So what is the solution? First - the levels of corruption across the board - at the national level - must show a downward trend. The ideology that breeds corruption must be condemned. As a writer says, "It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power." The system must identify and detect the corrupt tendencies in individuals and their proclivity to follow the ‘easier wrong’ than the ‘harder right’ at an early stage in their career.
Furthermore, the entire process of trials, assessment and acceptance must be made more transparent to the common public through the use of technology. The shroud of secrecy over defence purchases must be removed. A regular audit of research labs is a must to assess their inability to produce even the technology that the West and Russia could produce with ease in the 1940s.
The shroud of secrecy over defence purchases must be removed. A regular audit of research labs is a must to assess their inability to produce even the technology that the West and Russia could produce with ease in the 1940s
The government must encourage setting up of stores (on the lines of the ‘kendriya bhandars’ but better managed, may be through the PPP model) where most of the commonly used items in all government offices are available off the shelf set at common prices – this would ensure that same product is not bought by various government departments at different prices. Similarly for security products and spares that are common among military and para military forces, a common shopping mall should be made to ensure that all vendors display the product and price range at all times in that space.
Defence Expo 12
Since India is the biggest importer of arms in the world, it is befitting that it holds one of the largest defence exposition sin Asia. An expo that is designed to showcase to the Indians various military products that are desirable and essential for an armed force of some stature. According to the Ministry of Defence, "A total of 567 companies from 32 countries will display weapon systems for the Army, Navy and Internal Security. Major participants are from Russia, France and Israel besides Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Poland, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Turkey, USA and UK."
37 Russian companies, 27 French and 20 Israeli companies are exposing their products in the exhibition. It is learnt that Lockheed Martin is not participating in this Defence Expo, ostensibly, because it is concentrating on air systems and does not consider it fit enough to waste its resources and time in an exhibition that is largely focused on Land and naval systems. More than 60 official delegations including 14 headed by Defence Ministers are expected to attend the four-day exhibition. The Chinese delegation will also be visiting the stalls.
The Indian defence SMEs are likely to get further exposure to the international market and the scope to showcase their products and expertise to foreign companies looking out for joint ventures.
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