Friday, July 30, 2021
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Beating the bush on Rafale

Whether it is Bofors or Rafale, it is our regular feature of beating the bush on defence matters. The deals are kept as a top secret and under the present set up, it has become an open secret. Defence Ministry’s has every right to make a unilateral decision considering national security in mind and the controversy thus created is for political gains and nothing else.

The MoD has clearly established the facts and figure and the print media is indulging in catchy captions for grabbing and sensationalism and increasing the newspaper sale. Thus, from quoting 41.42 per cent and 14.2 per cent from the article, and pointing out 41 per cent which is arrived at based on price from two different periods is not in good taste. This is extremely serious considering that esteemed news media’s reputation earned over more than a century has gone to waste. It pains me as a citizen of India and on a high pedestal criticise with facts and figures and not for taking revenge on the ruling party. Definitely, it calls for an explanation or an apology for the journalistic neutrality. Moreover, how one can assume a constant price of the aircraft which is supposed to be produced by HAL and spread over several years? How to account for the production cost which will be affected by various factors like the cost of raw material, foreign exchange, labour cost etc., which are difficult to predict. Even in a two-wheeler, we fix up depreciation and here appreciation in price is a matter of interest over a period of time is just a matter of argument. Why this is ignored? So, logically, the NRE cost should be absorbed in the first 18 vs 36 in the current deal. In that case, the table will turn.

In the wake of newspaper wrong reporting for political gains, the opposition is taking advantage of the government’s strict adherence to national security concerns, in this case the need to keep the details of sensitive weaponry etc. associated with the combat aircraft ordered, top-secret lest the enemy will take advantage of eventually rendering the huge investment on 36 invincible war machines a colossal waste. Let us not play ourselves into the hands of our enemies and pay a heavy price for the same.

The more pertinent and relevant question to ask is that over the course of 70 plus years of political freedom, why did not our political establishment, build up the indigenous capability to manufacture aircraft in general and fighter aircraft in particular? Thousands of fighter aircraft have been imported and multiple technology transfer agreements struck: Yet HAL is unable to manufacture fighter aircraft on its own. Why this is and what has been the role of the political establishment, the bureaucracy, the media and the judiciary in this? If only HAL or any other PSU was allowed to develop this capability, there would be no need for a discussion on the Rafael deal now. When we can send a rocket to the moon and arrange for sending people to the planet, why not we push our efforts to gather momentum and hit a purple patch in the production of fighter air crafts as well.

The opposition should realise their role in national politics and instead of creating ruckus in parliament and the opposition  should not create a division between Hindu vs Muslim card, Dalit vs Pandit, Lynching vs Cow, Demonetisation vs Counterfeit, Assam vs Migrants, Jobs vs Jumla, Farmers vs GST, Verma vs Asthana, Patel statue vs Chinese and act as a responsible opposition. The opposition needs to create controversies all over defence issues and trying to become heroes. But public memory is not short on this count.

Most of the Indians have full faith in our government and no article or no post article noises can alter our faith. We all are aware of things and we can judge things based on their own merits and no amount of discussions, articles etc. can alter our discretion and our thought process. The opposition wants to paint the government as corrupt and inept since there are multiple cases pending on many opposition leaders and that would come up for discussion and it cannot be diluted. So an illusory case has been carved out for propaganda to bamboozle the people. But interestingly the people are very shrewd to see through all the power games in play. The media is least neutral and talk for one or the other party according to its choice. Still, we have wait and see what people have to say in the ballot box.


(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)
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