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HomeOpinionsComparing Chopper deals between eras of 'bribe factory' to 'the Chowkidar PM'

Comparing Chopper deals between eras of ‘bribe factory’ to ‘the Chowkidar PM’

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Abhishek Mishra
Abhishek Mishra
Strategic analyst and political commentator with two decades of experience in Security & Investigations industry currently leading a multinational at S Asia

During cold era period, altitude that attack fighters could achieve was a part of propaganda war. Flying at higher altitude has many advantages especially for a military cum VIP aircrafts and choppers. A higher altitude ensures more safety from ground attacks, better maneuverability especially in mountainous region and the ability to take advantage of air currents.

The government of India during UPA regime released an RFP for purchasing of 12 VVIP choppers. As the process of selection progressed, to make an Italian firm qualify, the service ceiling was midway reduced from 6.5 kms to 4.5 kms. Service ceiling is the maximum height/ altitude the craft can fly. It did not ring any alarm bells in India until Italian courts arrested the CEO of the Italian firm AgustaWestland on bribery charges for fraudulently obtaining the order from Indian government. The skeletons came tumbling in India and the worst happened when Indian Air Force Chief name surfaced among the ones receiving the kickback.

The list in the bribe factory included whose and who of power in Manmohan Singh government thus including almost all prominent faces of Congress party- up, close and personal assistants to its President Sonia Gandhi. The charge sheet includes three journalists most prominent among being the notable founder and editor in chief of the magazine The Print- Mr. Shekhar Gupta. Today the online magazine The Print never misses an opportunity to highlight the failures of present regime but has maintained a stoic silence on charges of corruption against the one at the helm of its own affairs.

Indian government in a face-saving grace cancelled the 3500 Crore contract and CBI in a rare action arrested the Chief of IAF. For the first time in the history of modern world order, Chief of a modern air force was put behind bars on allegations of bribery charges. As MOD grants sanction and chargesheet is filed against former CAG head, it will again be the first ever in history across centuries that Chief Auditor of the nation is himself charged with corruption. The rot spread so deep that top officers of the country whose role was to protect and audit have transverse moral boundaries to establish themselves among the accused.    

The number of scams that surfaced during UPA regime under silent Singh highlights that he ran a bribe factory in the guise of an economist PM and the workmen at his factory included middlemen, businessmen, top bureaucrats, officers, and top politicians inside and outside of his government. The key question hence is – Did the silent Singh not know? Even his ardent supporter would agree that he sure had some idea as he was running the government, at least running it partially as per whims and fancies of his party president.  Any suggestions that he did not have any idea, implies he was not running the government at all and makes his position more untenable. In fact such a suggestion that the PM had no control on the government he was running will be the biggest fraud on the people of this country. So lets give him benefit of doubt and conclude no fraud was committed and he was in know how. Most realistically, Silent Singh had reasonable idea if not an active involvement in the loot that is alleged to have happened during his rule.    

If we take Chopper deals in last decades alone, it is evident that the bribe factory has been shut under the current Prime Minister. PM Modi has lived up to his positioning of running a clean government. After the 12 helicopter 3500-crore chopper scam during tenure of his predecessor, the Indian PM and government under his Chowkidari has executed purchases of more than 100 helicopters, both military and VIP choppers in deals worth more than 12,000 Crores. None of his chopper deals have been under any scrutiny in India or abroad for any bribe scandals.

The choppers purchased under PM Modi includes US Apache as well as US Chinook Attack helicopters for Indian Air Force, US Apache for Indian Army, US Romeos Sea Hawk Helicopters for the Indian Navy and in a major boost to Make in India projects, development of Light Utility Helicopters was sanctioned and now orders for its manufacturing at Tumkur factory of HAL have been released. France has offered to shift its Naval choppers Panther manufacturing line to India. Most importantly while the money involved in all these projects total around 15,000 crores and are five times higher than VVIP AgustaWestland chopper deal, none have been mired into any controversy.  

The Chowkidari starts at the top and the current Indian PM is leading the way. It is important to add in the same breath the disappointment that silent Singh did not lead by example- as the man on the top, he failed in his duty towards the nation! With India shedding away its Italian connections, Bofors to AgustaWestland are chapters of history, today the nation spends her tax-payers money in giving her armed forces the equipment they desperately need for a looming threat of two front war.    

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Abhishek Mishra
Abhishek Mishra
Strategic analyst and political commentator with two decades of experience in Security & Investigations industry currently leading a multinational at S Asia
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