Between Efficiency and Honesty

Recent revelations of the Army Chief through print and digital media are cause of serious concern for the nation, The way the controversy is getting handled by the defence minister, the parliamentarians, and the experts is still worse. The word C has touched and affected every activity in every field. However, the question that bothers many like me is ”Should the country ‘s leadership be left to just so called honest persons in politics and army, or the country must search for efficiency from its leaders, be it in defence forces or government?”

Here is a story that has appeared in an article of Business Standard by a reputed columnist.

Defence Minister A K Antony was on a visit to the north east in February last year. At the 3 Corps headquarters in Rangapahar in Nagaland, Antony asked jawans if they needed anything. They said hesitantly if they could get a new pair of shoes every year instead of every 26 months that is the current practice…and if the shoes could be better quality..
. .
Everyone in headquarters agreed that this was imperative; the Indian jawan deserved better and put up a proposal that canvas shoes be replaced with smart Reebok, Adidas or Fila shoes that were at once smart and light but rugged.

In addition, a proposal was made that combat boots be replaced as well, with all-weather durable and lighter boots.

The proposal reached Antonys desk. The outgo was an additional Rs 140 crore that the defence minister had the authority to clear without referring it to anyone else.

Barely had it landed there that hegot another missive. A member of the BJP who is also an animal rights activist wrote to the minister that she had heard there was a proposal to replace these shoes with leather ones. She claimed to have information that the outer and back flap of the new type of shoes would be made with cows leather (favoured because it is soft and malleable). She said 4,000 cows would be slaughtered to make these shoes that would require 200,000 meters of leather. This was unacceptable and the proposal must be re-examined. The next day the minister returned the file with the noting that he was not yet ready to take this decision. The army is now looking for a firm that will make the same shoes with buffalo leather, a process that will take at least three years.Defence Minister A K Antony was on a visit to the north east in February last year. At the 3 Corps headquarters in Rangapahar in Nagaland, Antony asked jawans if they needed anything. They said hesitantly if they could get a new pair of shoes every year instead of every 26 months that is the current practice…and if the shoes could be better quality… .

Everyone in headquarters agreed that this was imperative; the Indian jawan deserved better and put up a proposal that canvas shoes be replaced with smart Reebok, Adidas or Fila shoes that were at once smart and light but rugged.In addition, a proposal was made that combat boots be replaced as well, with all-weather durable and lighter boots.

The proposal reached Antonys desk. The outgo was an additional Rs 140 crore that the defence minister had the authority to clear without referring it to anyone else.

Barely had it landed there that hegot another missive. A member of the BJP who is also an animal rights activist wrote to the minister that she had heard there was a proposal to replace these shoes with leather ones. She claimed to have information that the outer and back flap of the newtype of shoes would be made with cows leather (favoured because it is soft and malleable). She said 4,000 cows would be slaughtered to make these shoes that would require 200,000 meters of leather. This was unacceptable and the proposal must be re-examined.

The next day the minister returned the file with the noting that he was not yet ready to take this decision. The army is now looking for a firm that will make the same shoes with buffalo leather, a process that will take at least three years.


Can the country’s defence be safe with such person as cabinet minister? The Chief of Army is no different. Can the country’s well being be expected by just allowing a still more honest prime minister? Why could not a prime minister get procured the essential defence equipment and essentials when two of the neighbours are so hostile? Why can’t the defence minister make the babus work giving a time limit for each step in decision making? Why could not the economist prime minister used private sector in the manufacturing of defence items that is around Rs 50,000 crore a year? Why could the country manufacture many of the essential items locally when all other countries have done it? When a country like Brazil can produce indigenous aeroplane, why can’t India do that? Why can’t the domestically India can’t produce even a reliable helicopter? Why HAL with so huge an investment can be even Embraer (the Brazilian aviation giant), of not anything else? Why can’t the government protected PSUs, research institutions, and defence production units be made more efficient and productive?

With inefficient leadership the country can’t think of becoming a superpower. Even if it happens it will be in spite of it.

This entry was posted in governance, management and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s