Faced with allegations of kickbacks in defence deals,particularly the VVIP chopper deal scandal,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that the government is seeking to maintain probity and transparency in defence procurements even as he made a case for increased presence of the private sector in the defence manufacturing field.
After the foundation stone of Indian National Defence University was laid,Singh said that transparent and sound acquisition polices are critical to the defence preparedness of the nation. We have also been guided by the objective of making our defence acquisition transparent,smooth,efficient and less vulnerable to unethical practices. We will continue to seek the highest standards of probity in defence acquisition, he said,emphasising that acquisition polices are being reformed continually to ensure the best equipment for the armed forces.
The Defence Ministry is currently facing a CBI inquiry into allegations that bribes worth 51 million euros were paid to swing a deal for 12 VVIP choppers in favour of Italian firm AgustaWestland.
The Prime Minister also made a case for increased participation of the private sector in the defence field,saying that the government is taking steps to simulate the development of a domestic defence industry. We must fully utilise the sophisticated management and technological capacities that are already present in our private sector,including in the defence field,not just for production but also for defence research and development, Singh said.
He also claimed that the government has added to the Armys firepower that have increased their ability to protect the borders,without elaborating on what new equipment has been added. Our ability to service our frontiers with improved infrastructure and enhanced air mobility is considerably greater today than in the past, he said,adding that over the last nine years,deterrence capabilities of the nation have matured and have been given concrete shape.
Singh said that with the increased capabilities that have been added to the three forces,India is now in a good position to be a net provider of security in the region and beyond and has already assumed security responsibility for the Indian Ocean region.
Our defence cooperation has grown and today we have unprecedented access to high technology,capital and partnerships. We have also sought to assume our responsibility for stability in the Indian Ocean Region. We are well positioned,therefore,to become a net provider of security in our immediate region and beyond, he said.