Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Modernisation: Antony warns defence firms against corruption

Antony warns defence firms against corruption
July 12, 2011 6:40:46 PM IANS | New Delhi

With India expected spend nearly $100 billion over the next decade on modern equipment for its armed forces, Defence Minister A.K. Antony Tuesday cautioned against corruption in defence deals, particularly warning military vendors of "extreme steps" if any underhand deals were struck by them.

Inaugurating an international defence acquisition seminar at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) here, Antony also assured the defence companies that they will get "a level playing field" and "fair play" in the acquisition process in India.

However, he asked them "not to try to corrupt our people" while dealing with them during the acquisition process.

Going a step further, he said: "I do not want to be a party to any corrupt practice and will not allow even a rupee of Indian taxpayer's money to be spent on graft."

His assertions come at a juncture when Indian defence ministry is in the final stages of deciding the winner of its $10.4-billion tender for 126 combat planes for the Indian Air Force (IAF), apart from the contracts for 22 attack helicopters and 15 heavy-lift helicopters.

Plans for acquiring six new diesel-electric submarines, five different types of artillery guns and additional C-17 heavy-lift transport planes are in various stages of being implemented.

Trying to dispel suspicion among some smaller countries with a good defence industrial base that more powerful nations may sway India's heavy-duty defence deals in their favour, Antony said the defence acquisition in the country "will not be propelled" by political considerations.

"Up to the trial stage, the technical soundness of a product will determine whether it will remain in the race, and after that it is the price of the equipment which will determine its ultimate selection for procurement," he said.

India's April 2011 decision to down-select European firms EADS and Dassault as the two vendors remaining in the fray for the 126 combat jet tender was seen by many in the defence business fraternity as "going by the rule book" and without any "political and strategic" considerations in mind.

Sketching out the changes in the nature of warfare in the recent times, Antony said there was a shift and today the challenges range from asymmetric threats, terrorism, internal disturbances as well as conventional warfare in a nuclear backdrop.

"On our part we need to develop the latest strategic and conventional capabilities. However, in our enthusiasm to modernise and upgrade our security infrastructure, we must not allow our defence acquisition procedures to be manipulated or corrupted," he said.

The defence minister said the latest production policy of his ministry was aimed at strengthening the military industrial base in the country, both private and public sector, with the offsets (the mandatory defence acquisition clause of a successful foreign vendor ploughing 30 percent of the deal back in India's defence, civil aviation and internal security industry) showing potential.
Antony warns defence firms against corruption

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