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Middlemen in defence deals

The procurement of defence equipment is a painfully slow and a long-drawn process but if the allegations of bribes or kickbacks paid to the middlemen also crop up, the acquisition is further delayed (news report, Chopper deal held in abeyance”, October 30). The $720 million deal to buy 197 light-utility helicopters for the army has been put on hold for an indefinite period.

Delays in procurement of defence equipment, caused mostly because of insensitivity of our ‘babus’ to the defence needs, can adversely affect military preparedness and put national security in peril. Requirement of 126 fighter planes for the IAF that was projected several years ago has fructified recently but will take still more time before the planes actually arrive. Meanwhile, the figure of 126 has become redundant and the Air Force would need many more of them now.

It is easier for a company failing to get shortlisted to raise certain allegations. Fearing allegations of bias or bribes, no evaluation team, tasked to assess the suitability of critical defence equipment like guns, tanks, fighter aircraft or submarines, can do its job swiftly and fearlessly. After the infamous Bofors kickback scandal, officials connected with defence acquisitions became hesitant to take crucial decisions.

Despite pursuing the matter for years, nothing worthwhile has come out of the Bofors case. But to everyone’s astonishment, the Bofors gun proved its worth as a highly effective weapon in the Kargil war. The quality of the equipment that is chosen should be of primary importance and rest all, including the kickbacks, are secondary.

This is not to condone corruption but we are unduly sensitive to the existence of middlemen in defence deals. No sale/purchase of any item, whether in civil or military, is possible without middlemen. Manufacturers of even simple consumer goods, like toilet soap or shampoo, have ace cricketers or Bollywood stars as their brand ambassadors, who in a sense are their middlemen to promote the sales of their products. One, therefore, feels that the existence of middlemen in the defence deals may also be duly recognised and given due acceptance.

Wg Cdr CL SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

In a fix

If the RSS and the BJP do not dump Gadkari it will send a message of their hollowness and false claims (editorial Face in the mud, November 7). Gadkari has committed serious economic offences by opening fake companies at addresses which have been reported as fake/ non-existent or non-functional, except for transaction sake. Interestingly, Gadkari used the names of his driver and astrologer as the directors of these companies. BJP leaders may take a plea that such offences or mistakes are common in India. But, after all Gadkari is not a commoner, he heads an important national party, whose president could be piped as the future prime minister of the country.

Media did play a commendable role in furthering the cause of corruption at the topmost level.

However, notwithstanding the positive role of the media, the faith of the masses has been further shaken in the political parties’ credibility. It is seriously being questioned whether our politicians are capable of steering the nation ahead or not? This argument becomes stronger in view of the culpability of leaders of political parties trying to save a tainted leadership.

Let all deals of Gadkari be probed and his offices and accounts be sealed. Face saving is as difficult for BJP and RSS workers as for Nitin Gadkari and the top leadership. Nation wants an answer and let the issue be not lost in Gadkari’s mess. 

BRIJ B GOYAL, Ludhiana

Need to end bad governance

The flamboyant Congress General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi, finds fault with the existing political system. Who is responsible for this? To remind him, the Congress party and the UPA government have been ruling this country for almost a decade now (editorial Congress speaks up, November 6). Why is he not pleading for tough action against corrupt Congress leaders involved in corruption? The actual need of the hour is to rid the political system of corruption, bad governance and ill-conceived and outmoded political thinking. It is a misconception that people can be impressed by staying in the houses of rural Dalits, poor or underprivileged families or by conducting mass rallies with hired crowds.

Action must be preceded by honest pro-people thinking. The Congress party and the UPA government cannot justify forcing anti-people reforms without the requisite check on foreign companies and running the government with unwarranted foreign aid and self-justified decisions.

Capt Amar Jeet Kumar, Mohali 



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