Leadership: Dirty Laundry Makes Prime Time

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April 12, 2012: Indian military leadership is under fire from politicians because a secret report on Indian military deficiencies got leaked to the media. Apparently the generals did not leak the report. Moreover, none of the data in the report is really a secret. But putting all this stuff together in one report and allowing the media to demand some action from the political leadership proved very embarrassing.

India's military readiness problems are many. The report pointed out that the army artillery force consists mainly of guns that are obsolete or just old. It's the same with air-defense and infantry weapons, in addition to shortages of some types of ammunition. Efforts to buy new equipment have been stymied for decades because of corruption in the procurement bureaucracy or gross incompetence in the government weapons development efforts. Similar problems with the civil service have bungled procurement of new navy and air force equipment.

For the last decade there have been growing efforts to deal with the corruption. This is especially urgent because of the rapid economic growth since the 1990s, which has provided more income for the government and more for corrupt politicians and bureaucrats to steal. At the same time, there is a growing military threat from China, and the corruption is getting in the way of building up the armed forces to deal with that threat.

The corruption in India is ancient and quite entrenched. Efforts to clear out the thieving officials runs into tremendous resistance and are going to take time and perseverance. Part of that resistance is seen in the political fire storm over this report being made public.

 


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