pen­sions are paid through the de­fence bud­get, leav­ing that much less money for mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion. But al­lot­ment apart, there are other as­pects about the de­fence bud­get that ap­pear to be given short shrift ad­ver­tently or in­ad­ver­tently, for­mer be­ing more likely.

To start with, how do you work out a 15-year span LTIPP with­out a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Strat­egy fol­lowed by a Com­pre­hen­sive De­fence Re­view, and iron­i­cally the present gov­ern­ment too has made no move to ini­ti­ate th­ese. In the US, a Con­gres­sional Com­mit­tee is formed to which all Theatre Com­man­ders and Com­man­der Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand (SOCOM) make pre-bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion mak­ing their pro­jec­tions for the next de­fence bud­get. Their pre­sen­ta­tions cover what their present ca­pa­bil­i­ties are and given al­lot­ment as per funds re­quested what their fu­ture ca­pa­bil­ity would be. Why can’t we have a sim­i­lar sys­tem?

Surely, from the Par­lia­ment you can pick and choose req­ui­site num­ber of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans in­clud­ing de­fence vet­er­ans to form such com­mit­tees, notwith­stand­ing the fact that in the past we have had the Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee on De­fence even headed by a film star and dis­in­ter­ested mem­bers who have lit­tle idea about mat­ters mil­i­tary. Leak­ing of the let­ter from Gen­eral V.K. Singh (then Chief of Army Staff) to then Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh cre­ated mas­sive stink but with fo­cused more on how it got leaked rather than the mas­sive short­ages. Lit­tle would public know that such let­ters have been writ­ten by many ser­vice chiefs as well as the Chair­men Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee in the past. Yet the voids were per­mit­ted to grow be­cause of vested in­ter­ests that cap­i­talise on cre­at­ing crit­i­cal­i­ties and then cap­i­tal­is­ing on im­ports for in­di­vid­ual or col­lec­tive benefits of the vested in­ter­est of a se­lect group. It is this group that would not per­mit in­duc­tion of mil­i­tary pro­fes­sion­als into the MoD and as users in DRDO-DPSUs-OF other that odd per­func­tory post whereas the need is for them to be in the plan­ning/de­sign, man­age­ment, pol­icy for­mu­la­tion and de­ci­sion mak­ing lev­els.

A for­mer Vice Chief of Army Staff, who had a close friend in MoD (Fi­nance), was told by the lat­ter that they have to give a quar­terly re­port as to how much money ‘can’ pos­si­bly be sur­ren­dered from the de­fence bud­get, MoD be­ing the only Min­istry that has been sur­ren­der­ing funds bar­ring odd year when com­plete funds were uti­lized per­haps on ac­count of up­roar over the is­sue in the me­dia. Jaswant Singh, when De­fence Min­is­ter, had mooted the idea of carry for­ward of un­spent de­fence bud­get to the next fi­nan­cial year but the idea was given the quiet burial for rea­sons that can be well un­der­stood. In the present de­fence bud­get, some ` 98,000 crore were as­signed to cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture. As per in­for­ma­tion em­a­nat­ing from some quar­ters about ` 12,000 crore may get sur­ren­dered by de­sign. The vested group is well versed in how to or­ches­trate all this, late al­lot­ment through re­vised es­ti­mates stage and pussy­foot­ing files in­cluded, putting all the blame con­ve­niently on the mil­i­tary. It will be an­other sad day for the In­dian mil­i­tary. Well the end of the fi­nan­cial year is still far off. Hope­fully the De­fence Min­is­ter will look at all the is­sues men­tioned herein.

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