ADS

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Indian journey sans Bofors baggage

Ajai Shukla

In adversity, the saying goes, lies opportunity. Applying that principle, India’s indigenous defence complex is at a crucial moment where a resolute decision could make it a genuine supplier of high-end artillery equipment, instead of a mere spectator to a global shopping spree by the Indian military. Last Friday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signalled (if confirmation were needed) that it lacks the political will to cast aside the procedure in selecting a 155-millimetre artillery gun for the army. With the CBI proceeding against Singapore Technologies Kinetic (STK), one of the two remaining companies in the fray, the MoD restarted the entire process of tendering and trials rather than awarding the contract to the sole vendor remaining, UK-headquartered BAE Systems, which offered the politically contentious Bofors gun. It is time to end this long-playing farce of trial and rejection and put the MoD and global vendors of artillery systems out of their misery. The Indian Army must be frankly told that it will receive no 155-mm guns for the next five-to-seven years.

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