December 14, 2019 1:31:10 am
Former Army Chief V P Malik Friday lamented the lackadaisical attitude of the political class towards the defence needs of the country, saying that due lessons had not been learnt from the Kargil conflict.
Pointing out inadequacies in indigenous defence production and delays in acquisitions, General Malik, who was at the helm of the Army during the Kargil conflict, said that suppliers had provided substandard ammunition and outdated satellite photographs at the time.
“We purchased large quantities of artillery ammunition during the war and we found it was of the 1970 vintage. Half of it turned out to be duds. We also purchased satellite photographs at Rs 35,000 apiece and it was found that these were two years old. The vendors exploit such situations when we purchase in an emergency,” he said.
General Malik made the remarks during a panel discussion — ‘Make in India and the Nation’s Security’ — on the first day of the Military Literature Festival (MLF) here.
He also said that when the Army wanted to purchase weapon-locating radars some years prior to the Kargil conflict, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) did not let the deal go through because they promised indigenous equipment. “However, we did not get it in the time frame and when we did eventually purchase it in 2003, it was at a much higher cost,” he said.
General Malik led the chorus on urgently streamlining the defence procurement processes making them facilitators and not hurdles in “our endeavour to endow our forces with the cutting edge weaponry”.
Echoing his views, former Financial Advisor (Acquisition) with Ministry of Defence, Amit Cowshish questioned the ambiguity and mistrust around objectives laid down under ‘Make in India’ as far as defence acquisitions were concerned. Cautioning against the temptation to tag defence matters with mere sloganeering, Lt General Arun Sahni (retd) urged for allocating more funds for upgradation of warfare.
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