Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Media Cover for Ghosts and Corrupt Bureaucrats in MOD

Ref: Army HQ nod to foreign firm under scanner
India: Emergency Defense Purchase
Tue, 2012-10-09 00:38 — editor
News Comments By S.G.Vombatkere**
The front page news report of a reputed national daily on October 8, 2012, is headlined “Army HQ nod to foreign firm under scanner”. A picture of retired Gen V.K.Singh with the caption “Ex-Army chief initiated 'emergency purchase'” and the subtitle “$100 mn Tender – MoD finds Bulgarian firm not an original manufacturer; Russia complains”, clearly targets Army HQ.
The news item concerns emergency procurement of anti-aircraft gun ammunition allegedly through an irregular selection procedure.
This needs to be viewed in the context of the then Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen V.K.Singh's April 2012 letter to the Prime Minister, in which he reported that there were military hardware obsolescence’s and deficiencies of ammunition and equipment seriously affecting the battle readiness of the army.
This letter got leaked to the media. Even though Gen V.K.Singh demanded that the source of the leak be punished because it is treasonable, and the Raksha Mantri (RM) said it is a “breach of national security”, bureaucrats in MoD/PMO are soft-pedaling investigation because the ghost that caused the leak is right there amongst them.
Among the questions that need to be asked are: “Why did Army HQ initiate emergency purchase of anti-aircraft (AA) ammunition?”; “Could not Army HQ have foreseen the requirement and projected it to MoD in the normal course?”; and, “Did glitches in procurement procedures result in inordinate delay and consequent shortage of AA ammunition, creating an emergency that would have serious operational repercussions?”.
Also, if there is a military engagement with another country, can any COAS simply pack up the AA guns and tell the PM or RM, 'You have not provided the ammunition'? It is well known that defense procurement procedures are bureaucrat-controlled and corruption is indulged in by those who are in control. This is not to absolve Army HQ or COAS of responsibility but to point out that the dominant role in all defense procurement is that of the MoD bureaucracy, specifically, the Defense Secretary.
It is only the COAS who would initiate emergency purchase precisely because that is the level of responsibility for national security. But the reporter apparently has not stopped to enquire why there was an emergency. Targeting Army HQ by oblique accusation of corruption has inadvertently provided cover to corrupt officials. In any case it would have been more appropriate to paste the Defense Secretary's picture with the news report.
Gen V.K.Singh's courageous, path-breaking and openly-declared condemnation of corruption among the nexus of corrupt bureaucrats and certain retired army officers, together with the unassailable honesty of RM A.K.Antony, have discomfited the MoD bureaucracy. Hence it is necessary for them to target Army HQ and Gen V.K.Singh to divert media glare away from them.
It is unfortunate that the media has been misled by information provided by MoD bureaucrats, without asking questions on the lines mentioned above. One sincerely hopes that there is no bureaucrat-media nexus in this case.
**S.G.Vombatkere served 35 years in the Indian army and retired with the rank of major general from the post of Additional DG in charge of Discipline and Vigilance in Army HQ, New Delhi. He is presently engaged in voluntary work and is a member of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). Asian Tribune
India: Emergency Defense Purchase
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