Armed forces’ modernisation won’t be at the cost of transparency: Antony

November 14th, 2007 - 8:31 am ICT by admin  
Addressing the Parliamentary Consultative Committee here, Antony said that every reference from any responsible quarter on the issues of corruption would be taken cognisance of and the Ministry or the organisations under it would carry out necessary probe into them.

He said that in the past there have been controversies relating to deals with some companies ‘under cloud’ and “we will not proceed unless those doubts are cleared. We will not tolerate corruption.”

Antony said that India’s defence cooperation with other countries has undergone a sea-change after the end of the Cold War era. He said India now sources its equipment and platforms from many countries, including Russia, the UK, France, Germany, Israel and of late, the United States.

However, ‘India’s relationship with Russia is a time-tested one and will continue, he said, adding that the country would not abandon old friends for improving relations with new ones.

This statement comes close on the heels of his recent visit to Russia, which Antony described as ’successful’.

The Defence Ministers of both countries signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement for the Joint Development and Production of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft during his visit to Moscow last month. He admitted that there was some delay in the delivery schedule of the Aircraft Carrier Admiral Gorshkov, but said the two countries were trying to find a solution to the issues involved.

Commending the role of the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Antony said that the defence industry in the country has reached a high-level of maturity.

Last year, the value of production in the DPSUs was Rs. 17,855 crores against a target of Rs. 15,625 crores. The value of sales during the same financial year was Rs. 15,570 crores, which exceed the target by Rs. 2,263 crores. The DPSUs also earned profit after tax deduction to the tune of Rs. 2,445 crores, which was more than the target of Rs. 1,034 crores.

Antony said the DPSUs have reached the stage where they were capable of undertaking design and development work as well as product upgrades independently.

“They are in fact on the threshold of a position enjoyed by the Defence Industry in the developed countries,” he said while cautioning the top brass of the DPSUs not to rest on laurels, but ceaselessly work towards value addition, proper product support and serviceability of the supplies made to the Services, cost effectiveness and adherence to time and cost milestones.

“Stiff competition is going to be the fact of life and the fittest will only survive. Although the Government supports the DPSUs, but they have to survive in the market through their performance alone,” Antony said.

Cutting across party-lines, all the Members of Parliament present at the meeting complimented the role played by the DPSUs over the years to help the country to move towards the goal of self reliance. However, they also expressed concern about delays in the development and production of the Light Combat Aircraft, MBT Arjun, Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft and others.

They were also of the view that the government should encourage public-private partnership in the Defence Sector in a bigger way so that the talent and capital of the private sector can be taken advantage of.

The MPs who attended the meeting included Suresh Kalmadi, Naveen Jindal, MA Kharabela Swain, Jayaben B Thakkar, Samik Lahiri, A Shivajirao Patil, Sanjay Dhotre, Shankhlal Majhi, M Shivanna and Prem Kumar Dhumal from Lok Sabha, and Karan Singh, Santosh Bagrodia, Syed Azees Pasha, Vinay Katiiyar and Dharam Pal Sabharwal from Rajya Sabha. (ANI)

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