India is close to signing a $5.8 billion (Rs 26,390 crore) deal with the US to purchase 10 heavy-lift military transport planes. The deal tells a lot that is wrong with our defence modernization priorities.
Today, crucial defence deals are often held up because of fears about kickbacks. An honest defence minister, A.K. Antony, wants to clean the stables of his ministry when it comes to big-ticket purchases.
As with other things, this too has a cost. For example, much-needed artillery equipment has remained stuck in a bureaucratic maze for a decade. Other purchases meet a similar fate.
So how did this deal fructify? There’s no doubt India needs such aircraft. But that’s only one aspect of this purchase. US President Barack Obama visits India in November. This deal should be seen in that light: as a political sweetener. It’s unfortunate that defence purchases are divorced from pressing national security needs.