When Manohar Parrikar took over as the defense minister of India, the defense assets of India were deeply compromised and as per the official estimate, Indian defense forces were short of 300 fighter jets, 10 submarines, 1000 combat helicopters, 7 frigates and 3000 artillery guns….thanks to an incompetent government and a risk-averse bureaucracy in Defense ministry which chose not to undertake any defense procurement in fear of getting trapped in corruption cases.
Defense sector was often called “Hen which lays golden eggs” in the past, because of money that it involves and huge amount of kickbacks that can be received from various companies. Also, the number of middlemen and agents are the highest in this ministry, who lobby for various companies.
All these over a period of last 30 years (defense ministry was pretty robust till Indira Gandhi) made Indian defense completely hollow. Not only previous governments compromised with the “deep assets”, but the motivation level of soldiers had been at the lowest.
The first thing Manohar Parrikar did after assuming the office was he accepted the shortcomings, and that is the first step to solve any problem – to accept that it exists. Over last two years, he ended the culture of middlemen in defense procurement, made the entire system transparent and free of any agent. After cleaning the system, he undertook an unprecedented step of procurement of various things – artillery guns, fighter jets (Rafale deal), surveillance planes, bulletproof jackets, enhanced the production of submarines and grew leaps and bounds in the field of missile technology, thanks to Parrikar’s push towards indigenous manufacturing in defense.
In one of the most remarkable steps, with the help of PM Narendra Modi, he was successful in raising the FDI in defense from 23% to 49%. Many other obsolete clauses were removed, and the investments for manufacture of defense hardware have increased. More importantly, the investment in defense by government for indigenous manufacturing grew exponentially under Manohar Parrikar.
Last but not the least, he led the Surgical Strikes on terror camps across LOC, which made the nation proud and sent a strong message to the entire world.
A man who changed the working of defense ministry and cleaned it of all sorts of major corruption and inefficiency at the top-most level has resigned from the defense ministry to be the CM of Goa. It is an irreversible loss to the nation and it’s tough to fill the void created by Manohar Parrikar in defense ministry – undoubtedly one of the most crucial ministries for the nation.