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Sunday, 15 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 15 Mar 2015





























http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/orop-final-nod-likely-by-april-end-army-chief/53865.html
OROP final nod likely by April-end: Army Chief
Ravinder Saini

Tribune News Service

Jhajjar, March 14
Army Chief  General Dalbir Singh Suhag has said that ex-servicemen need not worry about the ‘one rank-one pension’ scheme as they would be able to get its benefit with arrears from April 1, 2014. The process to implement the scheme was on and was likely to be completed by the end of April, he said.

General Suhag was addressing a gathering during the ‘Veer Senani Rally’ organised by the Army at the Police Lines ground in Jhajjar today.

It was General Suhag’s first visit to his native place after assuming charge over seven months ago. He belongs to Bisaan village in Jhajjar district. He was accompanied by his wife Namita Suhag.

“I admit the delay in the execution of the one rank-one pension scheme but there were many technicalities that needed to be resolved before taking a final call on it. I am in touch with the Union Minister for Defence over the issue, who has recently dispatched the file to the finance department for the final nod,” said the Army Chief. He said that the matter would be placed in the meeting of the finance department scheduled next week.

“The scheme is likely to get the final approval by next month, but ex-servicemen need not worry if it takes more time. The delay will not cause any loss to them as the scheme will be executed from April 1, 2014 and the beneficiaries will be able to get arrears from that date," he said.

General Suhag said the Indian Army was being equipped with ultramodern weapons and ammunition. An amount of Rs 15,750 crore had been approved for buying artillery guns and Rs 3,500 crore would be spent to purchase other equipment. Later, he interacted with ex-servicemen and assured them of redressing their grievances.


http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/pakistan-detains-lakhvi-again/53789.html
Pakistan detains Lakhvi again
Islamabad, March 14
Pakistan today detained Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind, for 30 more days under a public security order before he could be released from jail following a court directive to set him free which evoked a strong protest from India.

“The Punjab government today issued the order of Lakhvi’s detention under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) for a period of 30 days. He will remain detained at the Adiala Jail where he is currently under custody in the Mumbai attack case,” a Punjab government official said.

An “outraged” India yesterday had summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi to lodge a strong protest against the Islamabad High Court order to release the LeT operations commander Lakhvi and said freeing him would pose a threat which “cannot be ignored”. — PTI
www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/thousands-of-iraqi-troops-in-tikrit-await-reinforcements/53618.html
Thousands of Iraqi troops in Tikrit await reinforcements
Baghdad, March 14
Iraqi forces and mainly Shia militiamen battling to wrest full control of the city of Tikrit from Islamic State militants paused their offensive for a second day on Saturday as they awaited reinforcements, a military source said.

More than 20,000 troops and Iranian-backed Shi’ite fighters entered Tikrit on Wednesday, having retaken areas to the north and south in a campaign launched almost two weeks ago, Iraq’s biggest offensive against the militants yet.

Islamic State fighters still hold about half the city and have booby-trapped buildings and laid improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs, the source in the local military command centre told Reuters.

More “well-trained forces” were needed for the street-by-street battles that recapturing the whole city would require, the source said, speaking by phone from Tikrit. He did not give a timeline for their arrival.

Victory for Iraq’s Shia-led government in Tikrit against the Sunni insurgents would set the tone for a broader confrontation in Mosul, the largest city in the north.

“We do not need a large number, just one or two thousand. We need professional personnel and soldiers,” the source told Reuters.

Military commanders had “reached a decision to halt the operation until a suitable, carefully set plan is in place” to break into central Tikrit, the source said.

Islamic State overran Iraq’s weakened army last year, seizing large amounts of territory where they have declared a caliphate and imposed brutal rule.

In Tikrit, which lies about 160 km north of Baghdad, the extremist group still controls central districts and a complex of palaces built by Saddam Hussein, the executed former Iraqi leader.

Iraqi security expert Hisham al-Hashemi doubted the city could be retaken with ground forces only, saying airpower was required to clear the many buildings which the IS fighters had rigged with explosives.

As the army and Shia militias, who are known as Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation), recaptured IS-held towns near Tikrit, a small number of residents who had fled the militants’ advance began to return home. Nearly two million Iraqis were displaced last year and officials have said that securing their return is a priority.

On Friday, some 200 families went home to the town of al-Alam with a security personnel escort from the government-held town of Dhuluiya, police sources there said. — Reuters


http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/naval-appointments/53809.html
Naval appointments
New Delhi

Vice-Admiral SPS Cheema has been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the all-powerful Mumbai-headquartered Western Naval Command, the Indian Navy’s sword arm, while Vice-Admiral S Lanba, the Vice-Chief of the Indian Navy, will replace Vice-Admiral Cheema as the Commander of the Kochi-based Southern Naval Command. The move comes about as Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra, the present Western Naval Commander retires on March 31. tns



http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-manohar-parrikar-speaks-for-integration-of-all-three-defence-services-2068499
Manohar Parrikar speaks for integration of all three Defence services
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said integration of the three Services is a must and that he is working out a mechanism for the creation of a post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) with a fixed tenure. He said he will recommend the mechanism in the next "2-3 months", noting it is important to move away from the thinking of "we" and "they" between the Defence Ministry and the three Services.

"Integration has to be there and Chief of Defence Staff is a must. How do you work it out? Give me some time and I will work it out because the three forces' integration does not exist in the present structure," Parrikar said at the India Today conclave. He was asked if the government is in favour of a CDS and if a Major General can ever be appointed as a Joint Secretary in the Defence Ministry.

Giving an example of a situation where a helicopter is needed, the Minister said the protocol for the air force and army for the same is different.

"I am not criticising but force integration and requirement integration as well as overlapping will save us money. With overlapping, number of items will be reduced," he said. Parrikar said it has to be recommended with very clear aspects and how to do it.

"More or less, in the next 2-3 months, my recommendation will get to the right place," he said when asked about a time-line. He made it clear that he will be recommending a mechanism for creation of the post of CDS and that the final decision will be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security.

At present, India has a Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee which Parrikar described as "virtually a figure head". He said CDS should be able to have discussion with all three Services and be able to work out specific requirements and needs.

Former Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh said that as Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, he had only a six-month tenure. The post of CDS should have fixed tenure and the government should be "sensitive" to "sensitivities" of the army, he said.


http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/agenda/cover-story/powering-parrikar.html
Powering Parrikar
 Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s competence is being studied through the parameters of a clutch of high-value projects. It appears that he will pass the test if he can show results in this area. It’s a minefield that he has to navigate, and one wrong step can blow his reputation to smithereens, says RAJESH SINGH

Manohar Parrikar must be a greatly relieved man. Now that the winter has set, he need not wear the heavy pullovers and jackets in which he seemed as comfortable as Sachin Tendulkar would be playing a world billiards championship. For three months, he endured the torture, and almost as a mark of not giving in completely, he rarely wore shoes. As a result, the Defence Minister’s sandal-strapped toes stood out like a sore thumb in the midst of the boots of the Armed Forces personnel that dazzled in their shine in the corridors of office and outside so much that you could do your hair in its reflection. Now, it is back to business: Half-sleeve shirt (in rare moments a full-sleeve one), unassuming trousers — and those sandals.

The Defence Minister is a man of the tropical climate. The best weather for him is a moderate one: Neither too warm nor too cold — much like the politics he practises. That is how his Goa is, of which he was the Chief Minister before Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to pluck him out of his comfort zone and bring him to Delhi just when the cold had begun to give gentle knocks before making a freezing arrival. He did try to stall his departure, but when Modi (and Amit Shah) decide on a thing, even a ringing protest sounds like pipsqueak talk.

The weather was the easier part to deal with, as Parrikar must have realised in the five months he has been Defence Minister. Some storms have already come his way, and more could follow. To be fair to him, he has had to grapple with legacies of his predecessor AK Antony, who confused total honesty with total absence of decision-making. Critical defence acquisitions were held up, and those that received in-principle clearances got stuck because of either faulty procedure or flawed evaluation. He is now not just left holding the backlogs but also faced with the challenge of speeding up new acquisitions. The Union Budget has given him little reason to cheer, with the outlay for defence being enhanced by a meagre eight per cent or so — not very different from the ‘largesse’ that earlier Union Finance Ministers had bestowed on the defence establishment.

As if these were not enough, Parrikar waded into a controversy of circumstances beyond his control, such as that of the mysterious Pakistan vessel whose crew set fire to the boat on being cornered by the Indian Coast Guard. Suddenly it was Parrikar versus the rest; the rest being defence and strategic affairs experts — some genuine, others self-appointed. They were all over television; they analysed the colour of the smoke that belched out of the boat as it burned and slowly sunk; they ridiculed him for his speculative remark that the Pakistani crew members must have consumed cyanide after they set the boat afire; they challenged him to produce evidence that the Coast Guard had not fired at the vessel; and, when the Defence Ministry released a video footage of the burning boat and the long time it took to sink, indicating that it had not been hit by gunfire, the experts trashed the video for not clearing the air at all.

The lesson for Parrikar is that there will always be people, and not just from the political establishment, who will refuse to believe the Government on national security issues but happily lap up theories to the contrary from partly-informed or even ill-informed sources. In Goa as Chief Minister, he must have never heard of one BK Loshali, a DIG-rank Coast Guard officer. As Defence Minister, he has had to come face to face with this worthy official’s bravado that not just re-ignited the fire in the anti-Government camps and the doubting experts, but also provided oxygen to Pakistan, whose representatives gleefully jumped on Loshali’s claim that he had ordered the Pakistani boat to be blown away. It didn’t matter to those who grabbed his claim as Gospel truth that neither had the boat been blown away nor did Loshali have the authority to order any strike. Loshali himself admitted to his bluster later. But the damage had been done, though not to the new Defence Minister’s image.

People are demanding to know if any real change is happening in the Defence Ministry since Parrikar took charge. They want movement, and believe they are not seeing enough of it. The Rafale purchase remains stuck; the Swiss basic aircraft trainer Pilatus deal has come under a cloud; negotiations for new purchases for the Navy continue to go through tortuous processes, while its submarine fleet capability and strength, already pathetic given that India wants to play an expanding role in the Indian Ocean region, is fast depleting. It is true that the Defence Acquisition Council has cleared projects worth more than Rs1.5 lakh crore. But it is anybody’s guess when the Armed Forces will get to see and induct the new products.

Parrikar can say, and with justification, that the processes have to be adhered to, and that the best one can do is to expedite them — and he is doing that. Nobody who has seen him function in Goa will deny that he is a swift decision-maker. Even his worst critics do not doubt his ability to deliver. Yet, issues that can be got off the ground relatively faster too appear pending. He could, for instance, have hastened the implementation of the one-rank-one-pension scheme. A mere allocation of funds in the Budget for it is not equivalent to action on the ground. It appears that he had got entangled by bureaucratic ingenuity which has sought to delay the implementation. The one-rank-one-pension scheme should have been executed yesterday. Today is still fine, but tomorrow could lead to a massive disenchantment among ex-servicemen against the Government.

Meanwhile, Parrikar has the challenge of ensuring the success of Make in India in the defence sector, and over a period of time reducing the dependence on imports and eventually becoming an important exporter of defence equipment. The last hope sounds surreal for now. Let’s then stick to realities. Foreign manufacturers will set shop in India provided the right environment is created. But at least they can be expected to produce material that will meet the highest international standards.

The Defence Minister does not have to lose sleep on that. What must be keeping him awake all night is not just the poor levels of quality of defence products that Indian public sector firms manufacture but also their disdain for meeting deadlines. This has had an impact on timely product delivery and on the national exchequer by way of cost overruns. The saga of the public sector-manufactured light combat aircraft, main battle tanks, advanced light helicopters and more, are too well known to be repeated.

The Defence Minister is not oblivious to these shortcomings. He has initiated shake-ups in the Defence Research and Development Organisation and has conveyed to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, in no uncertain terms, his displeasure over its shoddy track record. Perhaps the increased participation of the private sector will make these organisations pull up their socks and arouse them from their slumber.

Parrikar’s competence is being studied through the parameters of a clutch of high-value projects. It appears that he will pass the test if he can show results in this area. It’s a minefield that he has to navigate, and one wrong step can blow his reputation to smithereens. Take Dassault Aviation’s medium multi-range combat aircraft, Rafale. To cut a long story short, here is the nutshell: India had signed an in-principle deal worth a whopping $20 billion with France’s Dassault Aviation for the purchase and manufacture of 126 Rafale fighter aircraft (18 to be delivered by Dassault and the rest to be manufactured at the HAL plant with technology transfer) for the Indian Air Force. This happened during the UPA regime.

Now, the new Defence Minister is faced with a lack of clarity on cost overruns and opacity on accountability regarding maintenance. Dassault has refused to take responsibility for the product quality of HAL-built Rafale. Though HAL is reportedly willing to take on the product-accountability, the costing aspect is yet to be resolved. The Defence Minister has indicated his dismay with the state of affairs. If there is no resolution in sight soon, Parrikar could well say goodbye to Dassault and hello to a fresh round of controversy and a new extended process to acquire the MMRCA. Meanwhile, he has done the right thing to speed up the acquisition of the Russian fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft. But even this is a long road ahead. He has to keep in mind that the Indian Air Force needs 39 squadrons of fighter planes but has only 32.

The Army is in desperate need of equipment too. Since the Bofors days, India has not bought artillery guns. Also, the much touted two newly-raised Mountain Strike Corps designed to counter Chinese advances require light artillery guns with effective portability. According to some figures, modernisation of the artillery alone will cost Rs30,000 crore. No Government has said that it does not have money to boost the country’s defence. But no Government has given the Armed Forces what they need at the right time.

The Defence Minister has to change this oft-repeated narrative. Often, of course, it is not just acquisition but also optics that matter. George Fernandes is considered as among the better Defence Ministers the country has had in recent decades. One reason is that Fernandes struck a rapport with the Armed Forces by frequently visiting ground positions, appreciating the requirements of the jawans, and then following it with action by cutting through the red tape. Fernandes wore sandals on duty like Parrikar does. He transformed his image from being a perennial rebel often without a just cause to one of the country’s most responsible and effective Ministers during the last NDA regime. In NDA-2, Parrikar has the opportunity to emulate and better the one-time socialist leader.

Meanwhile, there is at least one decision he has taken which scores full points on pragmatism: The move to ‘regularise’ agents of defence companies. He had said, “Agents, representatives or technical consultants from defence firms are already allowed in the Defence Procurement Procedure... the problem is, it does not say what is not acceptable.” He promised changes to the Defence Procurement Policy, whereby representatives would be allowed, but commission or a percentage of profit for the deals would not be permitted. The representative’s remuneration would have to be declared by the company. One hopes this new thinking begins to get reflected soon and murky defence deals are nipped in the bud.

Side by side, the Government’s over-zealousness in black-listing firms (on grounds of dubious conduct) that have supplied defence goods and then having to struggle to meet spares and maintenance requirements as a fall-out of such black-listing needs to be effectively addressed. Here too, the pragmatic Parrikar must show his colours.

On a recent visit to Goa, Parrikar, with some relish, told (some said, boasted to) mediapersons that while they have access to him easily in Goa, it was near impossible for the Press to contact him in Delhi. He is hundred per cent right. As Defence Minister, he is surrounded by a bunch of personal staff, some of whom are important. But there are others that are self-styled ‘IPs’ (important persons), and they have taken it upon themselves to obstruct formal media access to him. While nobody denies that the country’s Defence Minister shouldn’t be expected to give quotes and sound bytes all the time, his staff’s over-zealousness to shield him can break down effective communication between the media and the Minister.

It is possible that Parrikar is still coming to grips with the media in Delhi, and his recent bitter experiences may have made him more than a little circumspect. For now, riding on the benign wave of expectation and his earlier track record in governance, he will sail through even with minimal media communication. But what of a situation when the weather turns rough?
 Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s competence is being studied through the parameters of a clutch of high-value projects. It appears that he will pass the test if he can show results in this area. It’s a minefield that he has to navigate, and one wrong step can blow his reputation to smithereens, says RAJESH SINGH

Manohar Parrikar must be a greatly relieved man. Now that the winter has set, he need not wear the heavy pullovers and jackets in which he seemed as comfortable as Sachin Tendulkar would be playing a world billiards championship. For three months, he endured the torture, and almost as a mark of not giving in completely, he rarely wore shoes. As a result, the Defence Minister’s sandal-strapped toes stood out like a sore thumb in the midst of the boots of the Armed Forces personnel that dazzled in their shine in the corridors of office and outside so much that you could do your hair in its reflection. Now, it is back to business: Half-sleeve shirt (in rare moments a full-sleeve one), unassuming trousers — and those sandals.

The Defence Minister is a man of the tropical climate. The best weather for him is a moderate one: Neither too warm nor too cold — much like the politics he practises. That is how his Goa is, of which he was the Chief Minister before Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to pluck him out of his comfort zone and bring him to Delhi just when the cold had begun to give gentle knocks before making a freezing arrival. He did try to stall his departure, but when Modi (and Amit Shah) decide on a thing, even a ringing protest sounds like pipsqueak talk.

The weather was the easier part to deal with, as Parrikar must have realised in the five months he has been Defence Minister. Some storms have already come his way, and more could follow. To be fair to him, he has had to grapple with legacies of his predecessor AK Antony, who confused total honesty with total absence of decision-making. Critical defence acquisitions were held up, and those that received in-principle clearances got stuck because of either faulty procedure or flawed evaluation. He is now not just left holding the backlogs but also faced with the challenge of speeding up new acquisitions. The Union Budget has given him little reason to cheer, with the outlay for defence being enhanced by a meagre eight per cent or so — not very different from the ‘largesse’ that earlier Union Finance Ministers had bestowed on the defence establishment.

As if these were not enough, Parrikar waded into a controversy of circumstances beyond his control, such as that of the mysterious Pakistan vessel whose crew set fire to the boat on being cornered by the Indian Coast Guard. Suddenly it was Parrikar versus the rest; the rest being defence and strategic affairs experts — some genuine, others self-appointed. They were all over television; they analysed the colour of the smoke that belched out of the boat as it burned and slowly sunk; they ridiculed him for his speculative remark that the Pakistani crew members must have consumed cyanide after they set the boat afire; they challenged him to produce evidence that the Coast Guard had not fired at the vessel; and, when the Defence Ministry released a video footage of the burning boat and the long time it took to sink, indicating that it had not been hit by gunfire, the experts trashed the video for not clearing the air at all.

The lesson for Parrikar is that there will always be people, and not just from the political establishment, who will refuse to believe the Government on national security issues but happily lap up theories to the contrary from partly-informed or even ill-informed sources. In Goa as Chief Minister, he must have never heard of one BK Loshali, a DIG-rank Coast Guard officer. As Defence Minister, he has had to come face to face with this worthy official’s bravado that not just re-ignited the fire in the anti-Government camps and the doubting experts, but also provided oxygen to Pakistan, whose representatives gleefully jumped on Loshali’s claim that he had ordered the Pakistani boat to be blown away. It didn’t matter to those who grabbed his claim as Gospel truth that neither had the boat been blown away nor did Loshali have the authority to order any strike. Loshali himself admitted to his bluster later. But the damage had been done, though not to the new Defence Minister’s image.

People are demanding to know if any real change is happening in the Defence Ministry since Parrikar took charge. They want movement, and believe they are not seeing enough of it. The Rafale purchase remains stuck; the Swiss basic aircraft trainer Pilatus deal has come under a cloud; negotiations for new purchases for the Navy continue to go through tortuous processes, while its submarine fleet capability and strength, already pathetic given that India wants to play an expanding role in the Indian Ocean region, is fast depleting. It is true that the Defence Acquisition Council has cleared projects worth more than Rs1.5 lakh crore. But it is anybody’s guess when the Armed Forces will get to see and induct the new products.

Parrikar can say, and with justification, that the processes have to be adhered to, and that the best one can do is to expedite them — and he is doing that. Nobody who has seen him function in Goa will deny that he is a swift decision-maker. Even his worst critics do not doubt his ability to deliver. Yet, issues that can be got off the ground relatively faster too appear pending. He could, for instance, have hastened the implementation of the one-rank-one-pension scheme. A mere allocation of funds in the Budget for it is not equivalent to action on the ground. It appears that he had got entangled by bureaucratic ingenuity which has sought to delay the implementation. The one-rank-one-pension scheme should have been executed yesterday. Today is still fine, but tomorrow could lead to a massive disenchantment among ex-servicemen against the Government.

Meanwhile, Parrikar has the challenge of ensuring the success of Make in India in the defence sector, and over a period of time reducing the dependence on imports and eventually becoming an important exporter of defence equipment. The last hope sounds surreal for now. Let’s then stick to realities. Foreign manufacturers will set shop in India provided the right environment is created. But at least they can be expected to produce material that will meet the highest international standards.

The Defence Minister does not have to lose sleep on that. What must be keeping him awake all night is not just the poor levels of quality of defence products that Indian public sector firms manufacture but also their disdain for meeting deadlines. This has had an impact on timely product delivery and on the national exchequer by way of cost overruns. The saga of the public sector-manufactured light combat aircraft, main battle tanks, advanced light helicopters and more, are too well known to be repeated.

The Defence Minister is not oblivious to these shortcomings. He has initiated shake-ups in the Defence Research and Development Organisation and has conveyed to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, in no uncertain terms, his displeasure over its shoddy track record. Perhaps the increased participation of the private sector will make these organisations pull up their socks and arouse them from their slumber.

Parrikar’s competence is being studied through the parameters of a clutch of high-value projects. It appears that he will pass the test if he can show results in this area. It’s a minefield that he has to navigate, and one wrong step can blow his reputation to smithereens. Take Dassault Aviation’s medium multi-range combat aircraft, Rafale. To cut a long story short, here is the nutshell: India had signed an in-principle deal worth a whopping $20 billion with France’s Dassault Aviation for the purchase and manufacture of 126 Rafale fighter aircraft (18 to be delivered by Dassault and the rest to be manufactured at the HAL plant with technology transfer) for the Indian Air Force. This happened during the UPA regime.

Now, the new Defence Minister is faced with a lack of clarity on cost overruns and opacity on accountability regarding maintenance. Dassault has refused to take responsibility for the product quality of HAL-built Rafale. Though HAL is reportedly willing to take on the product-accountability, the costing aspect is yet to be resolved. The Defence Minister has indicated his dismay with the state of affairs. If there is no resolution in sight soon, Parrikar could well say goodbye to Dassault and hello to a fresh round of controversy and a new extended process to acquire the MMRCA. Meanwhile, he has done the right thing to speed up the acquisition of the Russian fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft. But even this is a long road ahead. He has to keep in mind that the Indian Air Force needs 39 squadrons of fighter planes but has only 32.

The Army is in desperate need of equipment too. Since the Bofors days, India has not bought artillery guns. Also, the much touted two newly-raised Mountain Strike Corps designed to counter Chinese advances require light artillery guns with effective portability. According to some figures, modernisation of the artillery alone will cost Rs30,000 crore. No Government has said that it does not have money to boost the country’s defence. But no Government has given the Armed Forces what they need at the right time.

The Defence Minister has to change this oft-repeated narrative. Often, of course, it is not just acquisition but also optics that matter. George Fernandes is considered as among the better Defence Ministers the country has had in recent decades. One reason is that Fernandes struck a rapport with the Armed Forces by frequently visiting ground positions, appreciating the requirements of the jawans, and then following it with action by cutting through the red tape. Fernandes wore sandals on duty like Parrikar does. He transformed his image from being a perennial rebel often without a just cause to one of the country’s most responsible and effective Ministers during the last NDA regime. In NDA-2, Parrikar has the opportunity to emulate and better the one-time socialist leader.

Meanwhile, there is at least one decision he has taken which scores full points on pragmatism: The move to ‘regularise’ agents of defence companies. He had said, “Agents, representatives or technical consultants from defence firms are already allowed in the Defence Procurement Procedure... the problem is, it does not say what is not acceptable.” He promised changes to the Defence Procurement Policy, whereby representatives would be allowed, but commission or a percentage of profit for the deals would not be permitted. The representative’s remuneration would have to be declared by the company. One hopes this new thinking begins to get reflected soon and murky defence deals are nipped in the bud.

Side by side, the Government’s over-zealousness in black-listing firms (on grounds of dubious conduct) that have supplied defence goods and then having to struggle to meet spares and maintenance requirements as a fall-out of such black-listing needs to be effectively addressed. Here too, the pragmatic Parrikar must show his colours.

On a recent visit to Goa, Parrikar, with some relish, told (some said, boasted to) mediapersons that while they have access to him easily in Goa, it was near impossible for the Press to contact him in Delhi. He is hundred per cent right. As Defence Minister, he is surrounded by a bunch of personal staff, some of whom are important. But there are others that are self-styled ‘IPs’ (important persons), and they have taken it upon themselves to obstruct formal media access to him. While nobody denies that the country’s Defence Minister shouldn’t be expected to give quotes and sound bytes all the time, his staff’s over-zealousness to shield him can break down effective communication between the media and the Minister.

It is possible that Parrikar is still coming to grips with the media in Delhi, and his recent bitter experiences may have made him more than a little circumspect. For now, riding on the benign wave of expectation and his earlier track record in governance, he will sail through even with minimal media communication. But what of a situation when the weather turns rough?

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