HEADLINES:
Indian Army successfully test fires Agni-II IRBM for the third time। Agni-II is nuclear capable। The firing on February 20 in full operational configuration। DAC clears proposals worth Rs 15,935 Cr (approx $2.2b) । The approval covers purchae of Rifles, Carbines and Light Machine Guns for the Army, Navy and Air Force । New weapons are required by the Indian Army’s for effective engagement of Pakistani infiltrations । Leading Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir passes away । Globally respected for her liberal views, she was a strong pro-democracy activist । SpaceX Launches the World’s Most Powerful Rocket, and aboard it, Mr Musk’s electric red sports Car । “It’s kind of silly and fun, but silly and fun things are important,” he said Feb 6। Mr Elon Musk owns both SpaceX, the world’s biggest space company, as well as Tesla cars। SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has ferried payload to Space Station but this time, rocket is turbocharged। For the first time, NASA was not involved in launching such a heavy rocket। Singapore Airshow Opens Feb 6 । Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Airbus, Sikorsky, and the global biggies are taking part । Honeywell Provides Fuel Made From Mustard Seeds For Trans-Pacific Flight । Russia views India as a Privileged Partner, says Rostec CEO Chemezov । US Carrier Carl Vinson to make first ever visit to Vietnam in March । Carl Vinson woll dock at Da Nang, apparently boosting bilateral military cooperation । Happy Republic Day to All Indians । Emirates signs agreement for up to 36 additional A380s । India successfully test fires 5000-Km A380s ICBM। Defexpo to be held April 11-15 in Tamil Nadu, India’s southern state। HAL receives RfP for 83 LCA Tejas from IAF। The new LCAs will have AESA combat Radar। IAF had announced the decision for new LCAs sometime back। INS Kalvari commissioned into Indian Navy December 14। Prime Minister Modi ceremonially inducted the Scorpene class boat in Mumbai। Built by state-run MDL with French collaboration, Kalvari is the first submarine inducted after 2000। Modi described the Kalvari as a fine example of Make in India। Five more Kalvari Class submarines are to be commissioned over the next couple of years।
February 25, 2018
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Bureaucracy, Governance and Speedy Decisions

Published: November 2017
 

There is an old British saying that the Bureaucracy is a horse a politician has to guide and ride. A bureaucrat is also expected to be neutral as far as politicians are concerned, but he has to deliver on the implementation of an elected government’s decisions.

It is also expected that a politician will not harm a bureaucrat because of his political interests. But once he issues an order, as part of the government, in accordance with the laid down procedure, a bureaucrat also has to implement that.

In most countries, India included, this system of constitutional governance has worked well, except when some elected politicians have adopted aggressive, in rare cases insulting, postures to deal with the civil services. The system then suffers collapse or near paralysis.

This is what specifically happened in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) post the Bofors deal in mid-1980s. There were allegations of corruption, but VP Singh and his cronies also charged, falsely, that the Bofors was a poor quality gun. That was a lie. The persecution of some officers by him led to a kind of paralysis in the Ministry of Defence which in turn blocked the routine of the acquisition process and that in turn led to the shortage of equipment for all the three Services over the last 30 odd years.

It’s not easy now for any government to make up for the shortages in one go, but with some efforts, the pace can be tweaked to set the system to the best possible speed. But a government has to ensure that the cycle of allegations, repeated by vested, vicious or ill-informed interests, those in politics and media included, should have no effect on the routine and time-bound inductions as per the law, and the procedure.

The armed forces should not be hurt.

It is the duty of an elected minister, in-charge of the Ministry of Defence, to take decisions speedily, without fear and favour; every minister actually tries to do so but also gets checked sooner or later when allegations start coming in the media. A three-star officer once told me that just when the Army was about to place the order for a particular system, allegations erupted in the media, and in the process our troops were denied that particular requirement for some time. The allegations of course were found to be lies.

I am writing this as I understand that the new Defence Minister, Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman, has taken upon herself to ask why files regarding many cases have been pending in the ministry, for long, and without decisions. She wants answers, decisions, and their implementation.

Thank You.

The Government’s Make in India programme, beginning with the defence industrial sector, is a great initiative and it is sensible to bring in the private industry for parallel development. The public sector has not been able to do enough although in some cases, as in missiles and space, it has outstanding achievements to its credit.

Public, or private, there is no way to hold back what the armed forces need. Every soldier has to have the weapon which gives him the edge to deter or delete an adversary. Mrs Sitharaman knows this, and deserves full support.

Gulshan Rai Luthra

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