COAS Office hits Rock Bottom …

Posted on June 15, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

Excerpted from an article by Edwin Francis based on WikiLeaks, TEHELKA and other News Reports ..

What a mighty fall for an organization when the names of its Chiefs are figuring in scams!

It is said that General Deepak Kapoor institutionalized corruption. “He did not just pocket huge kickbacks but went on to invite the entire evil nexus of corruption (politician -bureaucrat -contractor) into the office of Army Chief. He did this by letting it be known that he is pliable and willing to use his office to share the spoils”.

A large number of officers aver that it was his predecessor, General NC Vij, who started the slide. What an irony that one manned and the other aspired to head the National Disaster Management Agency!

Wikileaks has given the title AT EASE WITH GREASE to its coverage of these Chiefs. It calls Kapoor a bit of a geek and avers that such was his combat incompetence that he proposed a simultaneous war with China and Pakistan so as to obliterate both! His main aim it is alleged was to amass personal assets by milking the system.

In the ADARSH Scam, the Maharashtra Govt gave the building a clearance certificate despite Western Naval Command objecting for security reasons and requesting action against the officers involved. Both Vij and Kapoor feigned ignorance about the fact that the building for Kargil war widows.

When Kapoor applied for a flat in the building, the rules required that an aspirant should have lived in Mumbai for 15 yrs. To oblige him, the Chief Minister gave him a domicile certificate. Further the salary slip he submitted with his application showed his salary as Rs 23450/- pm! When queried about this, he feigned surprise.

Equally damningly, the West Bengal MP, Ambika Banerjee, wrote to the Defense Minister that General Kapoor had assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and went on to list a flat in Dwarka and some five flats in Gurgaon beside one in Lokhandwala Mumbai. The General met the Defense Minister and denied these allegations.

There is the Northern Command High Altitude Tent  Scam when Kapoor was the Army Commander. His successor, General Panag ordered an inquiry but Kapoor as Chief shifted him to Central Command.

TEHELKA contacted Kapoor to get his version. On the fifth attempt, he responded, “There are a lot of things going on and I  would not like to comment”.

Then there is the SUKHNA Scam in which the Chief went soft on his Military Secretary who along with two other senior officers was indicted. The Defense Minister had to step in and ensure that needed disciplinary action was taken.

As the saga of General Deepak Kapoor and others unfolds, the Nation is traumatized by the  crumbling of a pillar, which it believed stood tall. It is sad that the rot runs deeper than these ex Chiefs because it was in 2001 that TEHELKA’s seminal expose on corruption in defence procurement, Operation WEST END, graphically laid bare the dangerous spread of the cancer of corruption in the higher echelons of the Indian Army.

Instead of launching a no holds barred clean up act, the Govt and the Army launched a witch hunt against TEHELKA. The gun fire was clearly misdirected for it created an enabling environment for corruption to grow – as seen by  the indictment of senior officers  in corruption cases in the last five years.

At the end of the decade, despite the dark cloud of corruption in the Army, there is a silver lining made of several strands in that whistles were blown and several officers went by the book to make exposes of corruption, that courts of enquiry were held and court martials proposed.

By the end of the first half of the current decade, India would have spent Rs 2.21 lac crores on what the consultancy firm, KPMG, calls one of the largest procurement cycles in the world. Leading defense manufacturers are flocking to Delhi for a slice of the defense spending. Indian firms too stand to gain contracts worth Rs 44.29 crores. The scope for kickbacks and grease money is obvious.

Patrick Choy, Chief Marketing Officer for Singapore based ST Kinetics, (which was reportedly black isted by Kapoor and was in the run for the Rs 13289  Crore contract for the 155 Howitser) stated plainly, “It has come to a point where we may be driven out because we cannot continue with what appears as a Black Hole”.

Detailing scams in the last decade covering the ASC, Ordinance and MES is sickening. But then they have always been prone to corruption. But now since it has made inroads into the Arms and breached the office of even the COAS, serious action is warranted.

It is up to the Services to look inward and appraise the battle worthiness of its command structure, from platoon to army and question whether the current promotion system itself is the root cause because currently it is infected.

Such action can only be considered by those who are worthy of trying on the shoes of the Cariapas, Thimayas and Manekshaws of the Indian Army.

Till such time, there is little hope.

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