Follow Us:
Thursday, September 23, 2021

Sodiers in Business

Dozens of retired military officers have joined private defence firms in recent years,some in violation of rules,forcing the government to think of tough measures to tackle the obvious threat of conflict of interest

Written by Ajmer Singh |
October 14, 2012 2:09:20 am

When Defence Minister A K Antony informed the Rajya Sabha in May that the government was seriously considering increasing the cooling period for retired military officers who want to work in the private sector to five years from one,it was a statement borne out of rising concern over the exodus of retired officers to defence companies despite the apparent conflict of interest.

An investigation by The Sunday Express has found that dozens of retired officers from the Army,Navy and Air Force,as well as some bureaucrats who have worked in the Defence Ministry,have been employed by Indian and foreign companies dealing in arms,military equipment,aerospace and ship-building,among others.

Although most of these retired officials have served the mandatory one-year cooling period before taking up these jobs,government sources said that their understanding of the sensitive internal dynamics of the forces,as well as their clout within the defence establishment which gives them the potential to try and influence lucrative arms deals,makes their switch worrying. Some have circumvented the rules by joining private firms as ‘consultants’ even before the end of the cooling period.

Concern has also been expressed that some of these officers,while in service,may have dealt with the companies they ended up joining after retirement,indicating a possible quid pro quo. Moreover,some retired officers have ended up working for controversial arms dealers and equipment manufacturers such as Ravi Rishi,Abhishek Verma and Suresh Nanda.

For the record,R26 of the All India Services (Death cum Retirement Rules),says a pensioner shall not accept any commercial employment before the expiry of one year from the date of his retirement,except with the previous sanction of the government. The rules were amended in 2007 and the cooling period was reduced to one year from two.

The Sunday Express has compiled a list of some such retired officers who moved to defence firms in recent years:

Air Marshal P K Barbora,who was Vice Chief of the IAF and Air Officer-Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Air Command,retired in December 2010. Within days,he joined Reliance Aerospace Technologies without seeking the permission of the IAF. Reliance Aerospace is the newly created defence arm of Reliance Industries and is headed by former Boeing India chief Vivek Lal. Reliance Aerospace has entered into an agreement with French defence firm Dassault Aviation to collaborate in India’s defence and homeland security sector. IAF also has close business links with Boeing and Dassault,with the latter being chosen to supply 126 Rafael fighter jets.

“I am offering consultancy to Reliance Aerospace for which permission is not required,only intimation is given,” Barbora told The Sunday Express when reached for his comment. “I am their advisor-cum-consultant. I don’t have an office or a secretary and there is no conflict of interest as Vivek joined after I joined and the tie-up with Dassault is a later development. There is nothing wrong in this as the defence industry is expanding,and also open to private sector,so former officers act as facilitators.”

Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy retired in 2004 and joined Dynamatic Technologies (Aerospace and Defence) as an independent director in 2005. “Those days,joining the private sector as an independent director was encouraged. This is an Indian company,specialising in hydraulics and I am an independent director,for which I get around Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 for attending their quarterly meetings,” Krishnaswamy said.

However,the website of Dynamatic Aerospace,a division of Dynamatic Technologies,claims it is a recognised leader in the Indian private sector for the development of complex aero structures and manufacture of aircraft parts and accessories. Launched in 1995,the division is headed by by Air Commodore (retd) Ravish Malhotra,one of India’s two cosmonauts.

Asked if he had sought the permission of the government to join Dynamatic since the cooling period at that time was two years,Krishnaswamy said: “I need to check up my old files and documents.”

Retired Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi is the Chairman of William Global Advisors,an aviation and aerospace consultancy. The co-founder and president of the company,John Williams,was the Director of Industrial Strategy and Offset Programs in India for Boeing,responsible for offset programs for both Boeing’s commercial and defence business units. Besides William Global,Tyagi has also worked with Zuari Industries and BHEL. “Yes,I’m managing a private company,” said Tyagi,who retired in 2007.

Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani,who was chief of the IAF’s Strategic Forces Command in 2004,after retirement joined as managing director of NOVA Integrated,a defence and aerospace collaboration between the Tatas and an Israeli company.

“I completed the two-year mandatory cooling period before joining the Tatas,” said Bhavnani.

Retired Rear Admiral R M Bhatia is an Executive Director of Pipavav Defence and offshore Engineering company,steering defence projects of the firm which was earlier known as Pipavav Shipyard. Pipavav has a joint venture with Mazagon Docks Ltd,the public sector company which builds warships and submarines. While in service,Bhatia was also on the board of all five shipyards under the ministries of shipping and defence. He was also chairman and managing director of Hindustan Shipyard Ltd.

Bhatia said there was no conflict of interest involved since he joined Pipavav much after his retirement and after the cooling period. “I retired long back and worked for Hindustan Shipyard and then for Mazagon Docks and in 2008 joined Pipavav,” he said.

Retired Vice Admiral P Jaitly,who was director of Mazagon Docks in 2004,went on to join L&T,which has a joint venture with Mazagon Docks to build submarines. “I went for a particular purpose,then finished my tenure with L&T and left,” said Jaitly.

Retired Vice Admiral P C Bhasin,who was on the Board of Directors of Mazagon Docks,also joined L&T as Senior Advisor.

Retired Vice Admiral H S Malhi,who was the chairman and managing director of Mazagon Docks until January 31,2012,joined Dolphin Offshores within four months. The private company repairs ships and rigs,handles marine operations,diving and underwater services. Its clients include Mazagon Docks,Cochin Shipyard,Shipping Corporation of India,ONGC,L&T and the Indian Navy,among others.

Retired Commodore M Jitendran,was chairman and managing director of the government-owned Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) until June 2010. The next month,he joined Pipavav as its chief executive officer. At Cochin Shipyard,Jitendran was involved with the Indian Navy’s prestigious aircraft carrier project. At Pipavav,he was responsible for warship projects.

“I had taken premature retirement from the Navy and joined CSL on contract,so the cooling period clause doesn’t apply in this case. Also,I had taken permission from the government before joining Pipavav,which I have now quit,” he said.

Retired Lt Gen Dalip Bhardwaj,a former director general of the Army’s mechanised forces,also joined Pipavav,which joined hands last year with American defence giant Northrup Grumman to explore opportunities in India. “I have joined Pipavav after completing my cooling period,” Bhardwaj said.

At least four generals worked for firms belonging to controversial defence contractor Ravi Rishi,who is being investigated by the CBI in the Tatra truck deal. Some of these generals handled crucial procurement for the Army and were Master General of Ordnance (MGO). The officers include

Lt Gen R I S Kahlon,Lt Gen A Sehgal,and former Director General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) Lt Gen Amarjit Singh. Lt Gen S J S Saighal,a relative of Sehgal,is the chief of Rishi’s helicopter company,Global Vectra.

Retired Capt Amarjit Singh worked for another controversial arms dealer Abhishek Verma,and accompanied Verma’s wife Anca Neacsu and officials of German hand guns firm Sig Sauer,when they called on top defence officials last year.

Colonel Virendra Jetley,brother of MGO Lt Gen V K Jetley was until recently working for the Indian unit of Bumar,the Polish firm which supplies armoured recovery vehicles in collaboration with BEML.

Colonel B S Bath works for Beretta,the Italian pistol manufacturing company.

NR Mohanty,former chairman and managing director of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL),joined Textron,the US-headquartered industrial conglomerate whose companies include Bell Helicopter and Cessna Aircraft Co.

Two former defence secretaries,Ajay Vikram Singh and Ajay Prasad,are independent directors on the board of Pipavav and SKIL Infrastructure,respectively. SKIL is the primary promoter of Pipavav.

Retired officers who worked or are working for private defence firms

Indian Air force

1. Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi,chairman,William Global Advisors; also worked as director at Zuari Industries,advisor at BHEL

2. Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy,independent director,Dynamatic Technologies

3. Air Marshal P K Barbora,Reliance Aerospace Technologies

4. Air Marshal N V Tyagi,Piramal Group’s defence business

5. Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani,NOVA Integrated

6. Air Marshal J S Gujral,advisor,aerospace business of Mahindra

7. Air Vice Marshal A J S Walia,country head,Sikorsky Helicopters

8. Air Vice Marshal T Sen,Boeing

9. Air Vice Marshal Gajendra Dua,BAE Systems

10. Air Vice Marshal Dev Ganesh,Honeywell Aerospace

11. Air Commodore Jaiswal,Boeing

12. Air Commodore A K Thakur,Thales

13. Air Commodore Khatre,Lockheed Martin

14. Air Commodore Vasudev Banerjee,Textron

15. Group Capt O K Dogra,Sukhoi

16. Group Capt Anil Gupta,EADS

17. Air Commodore Ravish Malhotra,Dynamatic Technologies

18. Air Vice Marshal S S Gunashekhar,director,aerospace defence,Rolls Royce

19. Wing Commander T G Natraja,Alpha Design Technologies

Indian Army

1. Lt Gen P P S Bhandari,president,Rolta India and Rolta Thales Ltd

2. Late Lt Gen Ashok Chaki,Rolta India

3. Lt Gen Vinay Shankar,worked for MKU,which makes ballistic protection and surveillance equipment

4. Lt Gen Davinder Kumar,CEO,Tata Advance Systems

5. Brig Khutub A Hai,Mahindra Defence

6. Late Lt Gen R I S Kahlon,Ravi Rishi’s Vectra Advanced Engineering

7. Lt Gen Amarjit Singh,Ravi Rishi’s Vectra Advanced Materials

8. Lt Gen S J S Saighal,Global Vectra

9. Maj Gen G S Hundal,independent director,Global Vectra

10. Lt Gen J S Dhillon,non-executive director,Rolta India; was advisor at Tata; additional director at Tata Advance Materials; Ural India

11. Maj Gen Kunal Mukherjee,Rolta India

12. Brig Ashok Gakhar,Rolta India

13. Lt Gen Arvind Kumar,defence consultant,Punj Corporation

Indian Navy

1. Vice Admiral P Jaitly,L&T

2. Vice Admiral P C Bhasin,L&T

3. Commodore G Sharma,Northrop Grumman

4. Commodore Jagdish Anand,SAAB

5. Rear Admiral Sampath Pillai,Kirloskar

6. Commodore M Jitendran,CEO,Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering

7. Rear Admiral R M Bhatia,ED,Pipavav Shipyard Ltd

8. Capt S K Patnaik,L&T

9. Commodore M S Randhawa,L&T

10. Commander G Vinod,Pipavav

11. Commander N Nigam,L&T

12. Commodore V G Jayaprakash,Rosoborone Services

13. Vice Admiral H S Malhi,ED,Special Projects,Dolphin Offshore

14. Vice Admiral S K K Krishnan,WalchandNagar Industries

15. Vice Admiral N M Nadaph,President,Walchand Technology Group

16. Commander Prateek Dabral,BAE Systems

17. Commander Puneet Chander,Israel Aerospace Industries

18. Commander Prabhakar Mandakolluthur,Advisor,Aerospace & Defence,TCS

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest News Archive News, download Indian Express App.

  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.