Uncertainty in South Block after Parrikar exit

Officials say Parrikar’s exit could not have come at a worse time for Ministry

Uncertainty looms over South Block with Manohar Parrikar leaving charge of the Defence Minister. His exit could not have come at a worse time for the Ministry, several officials said.

Mr. Parrikar’s sudden departure has put the brakes on several major initiatives to overhaul defence procurement, indigenisation, civil-military relations and so on.

“Continuity is required in the Defence Ministry, especially when projects have a long gestation period. So unless they are pushed continuously, the time lag will keep increasing and the process of indigenisation will keep getting delayed,” the former Chief of the Army Staff Deepak Kapoor told The Hindu.

He cautioned that delays were “detrimental to national security”.

Among the top priorities is the policy on the strategic partnership model, part of the Defence Procurement Procedure, which will spell out guidelines for tie-ups between foreign manufacturers and the private sector in high technology areas to build military hardware in India.

Officials said that the policy, after much deliberations and delays, was ready and was expected to be released after the elections. But a question mark hangs on it now.

Not an add-on

Defence is too important to be handled as an add-on, especially by the Finance Minister, said Air Vice-Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd), Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies.

“Major decisions are required which are in the final stages such as strategic partnerships, procurements and anomalies in the Seventh Pay Commission. They will now get delayed,” he said.

Pay revision

The other major issue is implementation of the Seventh Pay commission for the services, which was already done for their civilian counterparts.

The issue is being looked into by the anomalies committee and there is growing resentment among the services over the delay.

He said these issues had to be sorted out quickly, which was best done with a full-fledged Defence Minister.

Beyond procurements and the implementation of the pay commission proposals, Mr. Parrikar had spent considerable time and effort on issues such as reorganising the military to make it lean and lethal and the appointment of a Chief of the Defence Staff.

Source : The Hindu 

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