Distinguished fellow at ORF Mohan Guruswamy joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the AgustaWestland chopper deal bribery allegations.
Q. The issue came up first a year ago. Why did the "then Defence Minister" Mr. AK Antony take so long to order a probe? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy
A. Anthony always takes too long, over everything.
Q. This copter deal is a complete waste of public money and it is done only to pamper the over pampered politicians. Asked by: srinivass
A. I agree up to a point. But the deal was originally to buy helicopters that could fly up to 18000 ft to be able to maintain troops also. Then it became a plan to buy VIP choppers. How this happened will be interesting to know?
Q. Doesn't this deal value money ahead of security and life guard? How can bureaucrats make such moves? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy
A. If bureaucrats and politicians don't take decisions in government who will?
Q. Sir, Don't you feel instead of questioning the quality of copter we should focus on who got the money and how much as the copter is upto the mark. why focus of technicality instead of bribe? Asked by: BANU KULKARNI
A. I agree. It is a top class helicopter. Best in the class. But clearly someone made money. Who did is for the CBI to find out now?
Q. How come only Italian companies get the Indian defense/Security orders? How come only these companies do scams? Is there any political patronage in India who helps Italian companies to get military deals? What is wrong in changing specs during NDA regime? In Engineering field, change of specs is part and parcel of life. I somehow feel media helps Congress party by bringing NDA regime into every decision of UPA 1 & UPA 2 and thereby sidelining the actual issue and diverting the attention from Congress? Asked by: aditya.yanamand
A. This is not correct. Italy is a very small supplier of defence equipment. The AgustaWestland 101 helicopter has three engines and is considered the best in it's class. It's not true that only Italian co's are involved in scams. Many such deals are tainted - and many co's belonging to various nationalities. The Government was initially to buy a helicopter that would have flown upto 18000 ft and maintained troops at those heights. The use by VIP's was a secondary consideration. This spec was changed by Vajpayee and Brijesh Mishra to allow other co's to get in. The question will be answered during the investigation, I hope?
Q. Sir, as you said bureaucrats and politicians are there to take decisions. I agree. But how about the quality of decisions they make? It fails big time! How can they change decisions accordingly to make money? How can a citizen encourage them? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy
A. Not always true. Many decisions get taken and they work well for the nation. In 1996 Vajpayee tried to scrap the SU30MKI deal, but couldn't. He tried again in 1998 but it was too late. the bureaucrats said no. The SU30MKI is considered the best fighter today and is the mainstay of the IAF. So, not all decisions are bad and not all bureaucrats, politicians and military officials are bad or corrupt. The system of evaluation is normally good.
Q. Do you feel that the beneficiaries especially the politicians and bureaucrats would be in the open or the case would be closed with small fish like the Tyagi brothers? Asked by: Annonumous
A. Small fish will bring in the big fish. It's a slow process.
Q. Do you feel that we would follow the same route as was in the case of Tehelka wherein the defence officers were court martialed and dismissed, the bureaucrats were suspended (I believe that they are paid 50% of their total emoluments) and of course the politicians were left untouched? do you feel that air chief marshal Tyagi be the fall guy? Asked by: Arun
A. That couldn't happen here as no military officer seems involved. But you are right military justice is swifter.
Q. As has always been the case the political parties are blaming each other. the Congress contention that they had carried out inquiries lat year and there was nothing found. They further contend that they cannot take the evidence of a foreign country. If so and also having not found any thing wrong last year why have they now ordered a CBI inquiry? Is it not because of the Italian inquiry? Asked by: AKS
A. I suspect that political big wigs in both big parties are involved in such deals. Little happens in Delhi without someone who shouldn't making money. The big question that always is around is how do politicians sustain themselves and how do they fight elections? Even a man like AK Anthony who enjoys a good reputation? The money comes from such deals. Politicians are a breed of parasites.
Q. Sir, Do Indian VVIP need so much security when people are dying without food in India? Asked by: A S Gopal
A. Good question. I don't think so. Even if people had enough food, this kind of show of security is excessive and vulgar, and meant to overawe people.
Q. How will this affect Indian defence force's reputation among other countries? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy
A. India's reputation as a corrupt country is now well established. We all need to be ashamed of this.
Q. Is it true that Brijesh Mishra's son-in-law is an Italian national? Could there be a link here? Asked by: Prayag
A. It is true, but I don't know if there is a link.
Q. Why can't we develop an Indian private sector arm manufacturing industry? Is it solely because corruption for babus and politicians will get difficult and more visible? Asked by: Natesa Prasad
A. Our defence PSU's cannot produce weapons of the desired quality and modernity. The entire DRDO effort is ill managed and often corrupt. Private sector could fill in the gap. But we will have to allow more foreign investment to get the latest technology. So, equity limits have to be enhanced. Limits are in place to protect the PSU's and keep allowing the foreign companies make easy money. 70% of our capital expenditure is on imported systems. If we can buy from 100 per cent, then what is the hitch with buying from 40 or 50 or even 60 percent foreign owned co's? And why not even 100 percent? The jobs will be here and the value addition will be here. Soon the technology will spread out due to outsourcing, even of R&D. Look at the Brahmos project.
Q. Is the 2010 Italian VVIP chopper deal another Bofors in the making? Asked by: Pawan
A. It's well on its way to becoming one. As long as the authorities keep prevaricating and stalling investigations they will be blamed.
Q. Is it impossible to do defence deals in India without middlemen? Asked by: DK
A. The recent deals with the USA weer without middlemen. I think the MRCA evaluation was without middlemen. So its not impossible. But many foreign co's like middlemen because their own bosses often steal money under the pretext of paying kickbacks. The India front man invariably gets a pittance.
Q. Sir, we have corruption everywhere in our country. Right from defence till barrack shops. What can put a real "Full stop" for this? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy
A. Do you think Baba Ramdev will? No seriously this is a gradual process. The entire system needs a new ethos. It will take many decades. But it will get better in the future as media gets more competitive and aggressive in unearthing the truth. It is not that media itself is not corrupt. But wait and take an individual stand against it. One day it can become a majority.
Q. Is corruption a part of defence deals in India? Asked by: Tiger
A. Often it seems so, but more often than not it is not so.