And Now China Nudges Us to Modernise the Armed Forces
This report, that report, CAG report and Statements by Chiefs over the last few decades have periodically drawn attention to the paralysis in our routine defence acquisition and modernisation process, thanks to the allegation of corruption in the 1986 deal for Bofors Gun from Sweden coupled with lies from VP Singh and company who also added that it was a poor quality gun and prosecuted some officials.
While I have nothing to say about the allegation of corruption, the allegation of the gun being of poor quality was a lie which VP Singh used to propel himself to replace Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister. His various actions triggered a paralysis in the Ministry of Defence, and to date, the reluctance of officers involved in the selection process has not fully withered.
Thanks to the tempo he built up, most members of the two parliamentary committees, on Defence and another tasked to probe the Bofors deal, were not willing to believe that the Bofors gun in question was indeed made of steel. They were surprised when, in a demonstration for them, the gun actually fired and delivered the payload to 30.8 km, exceeding the stated range of 30 km. They were not satisfied even then till the Geological Survey of India (GSI), mandated to check the distance between the firing and impact points, confirmed the Army’s verification in this regard.
Notwithstanding whatever play the political parties have to do, and whatever probes the designated agencies and the Judiciary have to do, the requirements of the Indian Armed Forces should be attended to on Fast Track basis. At least now, for we have a nearly 30-year backlog in routine replacements and modernisation. It may be noted that when the Pakistani troops occupied parts of Kashmir, leading to the 1999 Kargil War to evict them, we had to import munitions and many items including high altitude clothing and shoes on a fast track basis. Then once again, the Pakistanis kicked us out of this paralysis in 2008 by launching the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai and the Government then cleared several proposals of the Indian Navy, including for the Boeing P8-I Maritime Surveillance and Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft to strengthen our vigil on the waters around us. Do we need to be kick-started out of this paralysis again!
Looks like, because our armed forces have the will but not the best of equipment even now. And the Chinese are threatening us every day with a war to expand their claims as a medieval imperialist power.
It is time for everybody in the political system, the Government, the People, to come together, fill up the voids in the requirements of the armed forces, and give them a decisive capability edge in defeating any one threatening us. We are Free Indians. We need to be strong to maintain our Freedom.