The Money Makers in Indian Military and Super Power Syndrome
By: Bassam javed
Yet another bribery scandal involving a senior military officer in defense purchases has surfaced in India. This time it is a former Chief of Indian Air Staff Shashi Tiyagi. India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a criminal case against the former Air Chief on charges of cheating and conspiracy in a $750 million helicopter deal marred by bribery. The CBI has otherwise a dismal record of pursuing the cases especially when it comes to senior military officers fearing persecution at the hands of India’s powerful military. It is for this reason that in 22 different cases of kick backs in defense deals that it registered since 2004, only one conviction was made. All these cases implicated India’s senior military officers. This is the second time that an Indian military chief has been accused in manipulation of military contracts against huge favors received from the middlemen. Earlier, the Naval Chief Admiral S M Nanda was involved in accepting huge kick backs in German submarines purchase deal for the Indian Navy. Another Navy Chief Sushill Kumar was also named for accepting kick backs in contracting purchase of Barak missiles from Israel for the Indian Navy. Indian Army has also been no exception. Apart from the scope for making money under the table in defense equipment purchases, the senior Indian army officers are involved in extracting huge money through manipulation of prime land owned by it.
The former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor is accused of obtaining a fake domicile certificate to make himself eligible for allotment of a flat in Mumbai in 2005. Indian member of parliament Ambika Benerjee had written a letter to Indian defense minister Antony revealing that former Chief of Indian Army Staff General Deepak had assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and questioning his ownership of various luxury flats in the most expensive neighborhoods in many of India’s posh cities.
It appears that accepting kick backs by the senior military officers in whatever defense purchase deals are made, has become a common norm in Indian defense establishment. It not only involves the senior military leaders but also the politicians, ministers and other high ranking civil bureaucrats sitting at the helms of Indian defense ministry. Seminal revelations of corruption in defense purchases in India delineate on the institutionalized involvement of senior military officers in each deal. The scope for senior Indian military officers to grease their hands through kick backs in awarding the defense procurement contracts remain bright as by 2015, India is destined to wrap up defense procurement deals worth 2.24 lakh crore.
The pretext for resorting to corruption in India is culturally imbedded in Indian society as a whole. It is even sanctioned by Indian scriptures which render the Indian culture susceptible to corruption. It is ironical that India, a country that terminally suffers with corruption disease, aspires to become a regional policeman. Indian aspersions to achieve supremacy in the region has been elaborated by C Raja Mohan in Foreign Affairs magazine back in 2006. According to him India’s grand strategy divides the world into three tiers. First one deals with the influence in its immediate neighborhood, second; the extended neighborhood and the third deals with the influence in global matters as a world power. Most disturbing however, is the first tier that encompasses the immediate neighborhood where India seeks primacy and a veto power over the actions of outside powers. whereas, the second and third tier of India’s strategy are no more doable in the current global environment, India is focused on Pakistan, which it considers a big hurdle in implementing first tier of its grand strategy. Indian designs on Pakistan, therefore, clearly establish its hegemonic ambitions in South Asian region. From the very outset of the partition of the sub-continent, India made its overtures clear to Pakistan wherein it started off with willful blocking of the Pakistan’s share in cash balances that existed in the official coffers of pre- partition India and cutting off water flows from rivers through network of water head-works that lay under its control. This indicates that India had a hegemonic mind set since the time the two countries became independent. Its wars with Pakistan and a number of other issues like settlement of Kashmir issue, Sir Creek, Siachen and construction of reservoirs on downward flow of rivers into Pakistan through Indian occupied Kashmir and often threatening statements like the recent LoC incident and attack on CPRF camp in occupied Kashmir, were all designed to subjugate Pakistan into Indian submission.
Despite all the odds in erecting a friendly relationship with India, Pakistan keeps making concessions but India chooses not to respond in kind. in a knee jerk reaction over a suicidal attack on CRPF camp by Kashmiri freedom fighters, Indian government opted to shut doors on group tourist visa facility that was agreed upon between the Pakistani Interior Minister and the Indian Home Minister. Whether it is candle light vigil at Wagah border, participation of Pakistani sportsmen in sports activities in India or Pakistani artists visiting India for strengthening the camaraderie, are some examples that indicate that Pakistan is willing to walk an extra mile when it comes to establishing friendly relations with India. In a rude retaliation over LoC incident India sent back home Pakistani hockey players who were already in India to participate in Indian hockey league. During the women cricket world cup in India, Pakistan’s women cricket team was made to stay within the premises of a cricket stadium in sub-standard conditions whereas all other teams were accommodated in five star hotels.
Notwithstanding the detestable incident on the LoC or CPRF camp attack in Kashmir, acts of certain individuals or groups should not be taken as cue to blame Pakistan. It is very unfortunate that many people in India consider Pakistanis to be terrorists. Regularly stereotyping Pakistanis on the basis of their nationality or religion, India has become deeply prejudiced and offensive in its overtures towards Pakistan. Many in India appear to be falling in line with the destructive ideology of Shiv Sena wherein they are determined to keep Pakistanis at bay at all forums, create roadblocks towards its development, feign unrest and sponsor terror and sectarian incidents in the country. The deep rooted anti-Pakistan rhetoric gets fuelled up whenever a terror incident or issues that crop up in India like unrest over frequent rapes’ and discontent over massive corruption taking place in all official quarters of Indian government. With the Indian establishment and the political leadership continuing to make Pakistan escape goat for all of its ills and doing nothing to curb anti-Pakistan feelings in its masses, the lines of division between the two countries will only continue to spiral.