In addition to the world’s largest importer of arms, India could also be the world’s largest market for investigation of scams related to the purchase of these arms. As part of its commitment to opening up the Indian economy to foreign technologies and expertise, the UPA government is toying with the idea of ending the CBI’s monopoly of investigating big tick corruption scandals, especially those emanating from defense purchases.
“Clearly, in addition to lacking the indigenous capability to build weapons platforms, we also lack the requisite capacity to investigate scams associated with purchases of these systems from foreign suppliers. So why not also float tenders to investigate concomitant scams along with the tenders for purchase of expensive foreign weapons platforms,” reasoned Defense Minister, Shri A K Antony.
The idea was conceived after Dr. Manmohan Singh recently requested his British counterpart for help in investigating kick-backs amounting to Rs. 350 crores associated with theRs.3,500 crore purchase of VVIP choppers from the Anglo-Italian company, Agusta-Westland.”Just like the DRDO, the CBI also has an abysmal record in delivering results. We sorely need forging expertise in investigating kickbacks,” said a PMO official, privy to the details.
Dr. Manmohan Singh was quick to downplay fears over whether tenders to investigate flawed tenders could in turn be compromised leading to another round of tenders to investigate the previous round. “If you do the math,” pointed out the economist turned PM, “you’ll realize that the total expenditure related to the infinite series of tenders will be bounded. Take the case of the VVIP chopper scam. The actual purchases were Rs.3,500 scores, the kickbacks at 10% were alleged to be Rs. 350 crore, and kickbacks to investigate the kickbacks will therefore not amount to more than Rs. 35 crores and so on. In other words,it is a geometric series that sums to Rs. 3888 crores.”
The UPA government has accordingly earmarked an extra 11% for capital expenditure on defense for the coming fiscal.