Friday, November 16, 2012

Exclusive! Mr Defense Minister, why the delays?

Neelam Mathews
Nov 16, 2012
The delay in making decisions for major tenders gathering dust in the corridors of power, are becoming a source of concern for the military. In a quest for looking squeaky clean, India might just be compromising the operational preparedness of its forces.
And of course, we may have overlooked that delays have a cascading effect in terms of money with the rupee depreciating, costs and obsolence in technology and equipment. So who is going to pay for this? The un-suspecting, naive tax payer ofcourse!  All because of inefficiencies, lethargy and a need to be transparent. Does anyone care anymore, one wonders?
Is it time to permit lobbyists - a more respectable standing to middlemen- with a set of rules and guidelines as followed elsewhere including the US that claims to follow ethics in business dealings? I might be the most hated person to suggest this, but a bitter pill and guts is the need of the hour.
Just a few examples. Take the 197 RSH helicopters desperately needed by the Indian army, which was cancelled due to a protest from the competitor that claimed "wrong doings" in India's procurement process and never participated in the re-tender. Take the Indian Navy's 16 MRH helicopters stalled following angry letters demanding a re-look. Can a tender be scrapped just on the basis of 25 threatening letters- and that too before the commercials have opened? Can somebody inform us how access has been given to the vendors to such information? 
Do we not trust our own? Are we saying that our officials mandated to do technical evaluations and followups are not of a high standard? If so, are we looking at that? If not, why are we allowing ourselves to be bull-dozed by foreign powers/OEMs/vendors? Is the country being held to ransom? 
Mr Minister, this is serious business. The faster we get our dignity back, the better. We are losing face faster than a raging tsunami in the international community.

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