Mindset of suspicion in Defence Ministry needs to be removed: Parrikar

Admitting that some past scams have led to a mindset of suspicion in his ministry, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said there is a need to get rid of this approach as unnecessary tightening of procedures is hurting the industry and country at large. “Last one-and-half year we tried to analyse…some times it is quite disturbing that because there has been some scams, we have been tightening the screws of the procedures to a level that the basic aspect of procurement procedure or acquisition itself has been forgotten,” he said. He pointed out that once the Request for Proposal (RFP) is issued for defence procurement changes in it are not allowed because of the suspicion of bribe or foul play. “The assumption that doing something correct will compromise the transparency is not correct,” Parrikar said. “I have been thinking about how to overcome this situation by changing the procedure, while convincing everyone in the defence that still it can be very transparent,” he said. “You can’t make things foolproof right on day one, you tend to make mistakes,” Parrikar added. Parrikar was speaking at the 7th Strategic Electronics Summit 2016 organised by Electronic Industries body ELCINA here. Noting that today modifications are not possible in RFP and there are instances they have been recalled because of this, the Minister said “this concept or thinking of suspecting everyone needs to be removed”. He also said this kind of mindset has probably damaged Indian defense and the country’s strategic industry very much and added that in the past two years efforts were being made to change it. “One single most achievement if someone asks me, I can quote in which I have made reasonable success is changing the mindset of people in defence, where now they have started understanding,” he said.
Stating that many a times situations which are not conducive for the industry are created, Parrikar asked defence PSUs and Ordnance Factories Board to be lead integrator rather than trying to manufacture everything from pin to wings of the aircraft. Parrikar while listing out the developments also pointed out at the failures of previous government. “Last one year has been really important year of happenings. When this (NDA) government came in, defence procurement was almost kind of converted into probably buy global. Proposals of acquisition instead of normal routes were getting into different kinds of jam,” Parrikar said.
Assuring the industry that from his side there will be business, Parrikar said “from your side you should promise to do the business honestly….”
He also assured that ELCINA’s proposal to setup a lab with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) will become a reality in a couple of months. Parrikar said by this year-end both Ordnance Factories Board manual and Defence Procurement Manual will be amended.

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