An IIPM and Arindam Chaudhuri's Initiative

IIPM Think Tank Prasoon S Majumdar on 'No Defense for Defence'

Corruption in defence hits the lowest strata of soldiers

 

New Delhi, India -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/21/2012 -- An IIPM and Arindam Chaudhuri's initiative

Indian defence has always been looked up to with lot of dignity and honour. But then, this image of our defence being epitome of discipline and bereft of any vices, is under siege following series of scams and corruption scandals. The scams that subverted the image of our defence ranges from Bofors to operation West End to Adarsh Society scandal. Recently, more than five defence procurement companies were banned from doing business in India, after they were alleged with corruption charges.

The albatross of corruption has reached even the topmost person in the armed forces. While in office after taking over as the Chief of Army staff in 2010, a retired Lieutenant General, who was involved in Adarsh Society Housing scandal, bribed another official with Rs.50 crore to steer a heavy vehicle contract in favour of an East European supplier, instead of an existing Indo-Russian joint venture. This one incident speaks volumes about the extent of corruption that is slowly seeping into the ranks of our armed forces!

In the same lines, Central Vigilance Commission's (CVC) investigation on Border Roads Organization’s (BRO’s) Project Deepak unearthed evidences of lack of transparency, dearth of quality control, manipulations with tenders and use of inferior quality of materials in constructing bridges and roads. These substandard roads are alarming especially in the context of Chinese advancements in building world class infrastructure alongside the borders! The CVC report demonstrates financial irregularities in excess of Rs.100 crores, apart from shoddy work produced to build vital roads and bridges. However, no story would be complete without the mention of Operation West End. In this case, a notorious nexus between the ministers of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and army top brass dovetailed to take bribes that eclipsed four per cent of tens of thousands of crores of total defence contract amount. Last year in January, a former army vice chief Lt-General was found involved in a land scam that robed the government of 0.96 acres of prime defence land worth Rs.45 crore in the Pune cantonment area.

Given the fact that procurement and manufacturing of defence equipments are still not in private hands, such irregularities reflect the strong nexus between bureaucrats and veteran army personnel. In a number of cases, even top officials form organisations like DRDO were found involved in corruption and were later arrested. In case of DRDO which should be epitome of scientific development and politically-free work environment, it is just not about money, but more about opportunity cost and negative externalities that they create, in the process.

The sanctity of defence services, which is arguably the best kept government institution, is well and truly undermined. The retired army officers are often found colluding shoulder to shoulder with defence contractors in using their influence for them to get the deals in exchange of handsome bribes! It not only dents the image of defence services, that is ought to be the most clean and spotless organisation, but also comes as a huge loss to the nation. Most of the time, this embezzlement of funds and resources hit the lower most strata of soldiers. Be it scams in procurement of basic arms and ammunition or be it scams in purchase of technologically advanced fighter-jets, it is soldiers at the front and the common man at the rear, who have to pay – and pay with their lives!