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SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Army chief General M.M. Naravane called for a “revolution in bureaucratic affairs” and called for a rethink of the L1 vendor concept altogether Under the present system, where the lowest bidder, known as L1, always wins the contract. Army chief batted for the procurement process be reduced of the bureaucratic web of checks and balances to promote fast-tracking of the modernization, and simultaneously promoting self-reliance in the country.

Red Tape and the typical babudom attitude of the bureaucrats has ensured that procurement of any weapon systems is a much more complex system than anywhere else in the world and due to past corruption and middlemen interference that has often lead to unnecessary checks and balances that often means procurement is delayed by years and sometimes even decades due to additional power which bureaucrats often use to delay this program.

But the revolution in the Procurement Process is not the only thing that will fix the Indian Army’s procurement process, it also needs to fix how it frames its General staff qualitative requirement (GSQR) that often leads to wild goose chase when they are poorly drafted and done in such a way that it favors only one particular company or its product.
Indian Army’s Assault rifle procurement over the years has become the butt of jokes among International and Domestic manufacturers due to technical specifications and requirements that are simply untenable and difficult to meet by any weapon system on the offer.

Former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was the first to openly criticized how poorly was Indian Army’s GSQR is often framed and how no vendor sometimes can’t meet such strict requirements. Poor framing of GSQR often means multiple revisions and multiple trials and negotiation rounds only to be declared canceled so that it is refloated again in another few months.

Indian Army’s GSQR sometimes seems to be copy-paste from the multiple product brochures all put together by one Genius General who has no idea that all that which has been mentioned can’t be found in one single weapon system. Indian Army often has been accused of going for multiple revisions of its GSQR when it comes to local weapon development like the Arjun Main Battle Tank program that faced countless revisions want for additional capabilities and U-turns on the dime when such capabilities are met in the last 30 years when the same qualities were often found missing in imported Russian T-90 main battle tanks.

Indian Army has been even accused of sabotage in favoring one company in the past by both International and domestic vendors as was seen in multiple break downs that Arjun tanks often faced in Army trials for which DRDO had to install fail check mechanism since it feared it was due to internal sabotage and had to get it audited from Israeli company just to prove that the Arjun tank was not inferior as often claimed by Indian Army in the media but was far superior to the Russian T-90s tanks.

Indian Army can’t lay all the blame on the bureaucratic process in the procurement of weapon systems but also needs to fix its standard of drafting its General staff qualitative requirement (GSQR) that is often behind delays in procurement of weapons systems. Revolution won’t come in the procurement process if GSQR wants Main Battle Tank that can often fly that too backward. GSQR needs to be realistic and friendly to the local manufactures and the capabilities that they can offer or the Indian Army will never be able to break away from Import friendly image that it always has been accused of.

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Article by SATYAJEET KUMAR ,  cannot be republished Partially or Full without consent from Writer or idrw.org