India is the largest importer of arms and is said to have the seventh largest defence budget. Despite this if we are staring at a military breakdown, it speaks volumes of the governance deficit wherein almost every single deal is mired in corruption leading to inevitable delays and cancellations. And this is happening when only a part of defence-related information is out in the public domain. The core, of closely guarded secrets, must be much worse. What a sorry state of affairs indeed!
The CAG, in its 2008-09 and 2010-11 reports, has made grave observations regarding the urgent need for procurement of new battery systems for naval submarines. However, instead of going by the reports and opting for fresh procurement, the Defence Ministry has shown that faulty refits fail miserably when put to the test.
By stepping down as the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Joshi has upheld the integrity and ethical values that he inherited during the course of his career. Not only this chief but other service chiefs seem to have expressed frustration over procedural delays and at the slow modernisation of India’s defence machinery. It is in excusable that we are losing our men and women in uniform due to negligence and corruption, and in times of peace.
It is shocking that the world’s third fastest growing economy has a defence force being held back by corruption, procrastination and lack of productivity. It is disconcerting that after every Republic Day parade we are lulled into believing that all is well with our defence forces as they march before us. The terrible truth is that all is not well and the rot runs deep.
On December 21, 2002, a brave mother, Kavita Gadgil, decided to change things after her 21-year-old IAF pilot son, Flt. Lt. Abhijit Gadgil, died during a fighter training exercise on September 17, 2001. She formed the Abhijit Air Safety Foundation which campaigns relentlessly to improve air safety for IAF pilots. Perhaps all guardians of the officers and soldiers in the Army and the Navy need to take a leaf out of her book.
As the parents of a naval officer, our hearts go out to the families and parents of the two brave young officers, whose last and courageous act of self-sacrifice helped save the lives of their brothers-in-arms. It pains us to learn from the media that it is callousness, negligence, inefficiency and poor leadership that have led to the current state of our armed forces. It is obvious that if the very defence preparedness and the security of the nation are being compromised by such a pattern of actions of the Ministry of Defence, it would be almost akin to an act of high treason, aiding and abetting the enemy.
Elizabeth & Mathew Joseph,
To lose officers and soldiers amounts to losing the nation’s valuable assets; more or less like the dissipation of a nation’s strength. The root cause needs to be looked into, especially when it concerns the technical aspects of equipment. An honest review is what will help build a strong and modern defence force.
Hmangte Sang David Kom,