Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always aimed in the modernization of the country and it has implied in his speeches, that is without the compromise on the rules book as per his government’s administration.
Given this fact, in terms to modernize India’s military the rigid rules that forbid single bidders, cap prices and blacklist companies accused of graft apart from the processes that are lengthy, has forced PM Modi’s administration to cancel at least $25 billion worth of tenders over the past three years.
Last month an order to buy 44,000 light machine guns was cancelled even after the knowing the fact about the Chinese troops carrying tense eyeball-to-eyeball standoff. It was a decision taken based on the subjective aspect, we hope.
It should be noted that there were long-drawn trials of at least four vendors for the machine-guns tender, which was later approved by the Defence Acquisition Council in September 2013.
The expenditure watchdog report showed in July, that there is a requirement of the military hacks and the without-delay effect has to be looked into by the government very soon.
KV Kuber, a New Delhi-based independent defense analyst who is on government panels shaping procurement policies says “The idea of the defense procurement procedures is to ensure that the armed forces are equipped with the best the country can afford. It was never the intention to prevent procurements”. He clarified that “By canceling imminent contracts, besides depriving the forces of the military platforms they need, it causes avoidable trust deficit in the industry, both domestic and foreign.”
The cancellations also included a $20 billion tender for 126 combat planes, that was first issued in 2007. PM Modi withdrew the order in 2015 as it was decided by the government to buy 36 Rafale planes directly from the French government.
As per the NDTV report, Sunny Guglani, Airbus spokesperson for India, said “The A330MRTT has twice emerged as the preferred choice for the Indian Air Force’s requirement for mid-air refueling tankers but, for reasons not fully understood by us, on both the occasions the tender was withdrawn”. He reiterated that “The AS550 Fennec had emerged as the technically-compliant L-1 bidder (lowest cost) in the first instance of the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter tender and entered into commercial negotiations with the customer before the process was canceled.”
India and Russia have agreed to manufacture the Russian Kamov Ka-226T helicopter in India to meet the armed forces’ requirement, and 15 years have gone by since the first tender for the helicopters were issued in 2003.
The government in November said Ministry of Defence officials can ease some of the procurement rules as long as they can show that the weapons purchase is critical.
India’s Ministry of Defence spokesman Nitin Wakankar said he had no comment to offer on the canceled tenders.
Deepak Sinha, a retired brigadier from the Indian Army who is now a distinguished fellow with the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation said,
“There are vested interests, including those within the system, in delaying projects.”
Apart from the difference of opinions. the stringent rules would decide the factor to prove the best aspect towards the selection of the respective and eminent protective source for the country !