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Uncertainty in South Block after Parrikar departure

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Uncertainty rises over South Block with Manohar Parrikar leaving the administration of the Defence Minister. His departure could not have come at a bad time for the Ministry, several officials said.

Mr. Parrikar’s sudden exit has put the brakes on several major actions to overhaul defense procurement, indigenisation, civil-military associations and so on.

“Continuity is needed in the Defence Ministry, particularly when projects have a long gestation period. So unless they are pushed continuously, the time lag will keep increasing and the process of indigenisation will keep getting late,” the former Chief of the Army Staff Deepak Kapoor told The Hindu.

He warned that delays were “danger to national security”.

Among the top priorities is the policy on the strategic partnership model, part of the Defence Procurement Method, which will spell out guidelines for tie-ups between foreign manufacturers and the private sector in high technology areas to develop military hardware in India.

Officials said that the policy, after much discussions and delays, was ready and was expected to be released after the elections. But a question mark hangs on it now.

Not an add-on

Defense is too important to be handled as an add-on, particularly by the Finance Minister, said Air Vice-Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd), Special Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies.

“Major decisions are needed which are in the last stages such as strategic partnerships, procurements, and anomalies in the Seventh Pay Commission. They will now get delayed,” he said.

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