The biggest corruption scandal of India: Rafale deal

(Maemuna Sadaf, Rawalpindi)

India is facing high criticism internally on the procurement of The Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, Rafale. The competition of supply of these aircrafts is also known as Medium Role Combat Aircraft competition. It is also called MRCA tender. The purpose of this competition is meant to supply 126 multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF). 55,000 crore Indian Rupees (US $ 8.0 billion) was allocated for this procurement. The said amount makes this deal largest defence deal. Previously, Indian Air force was using Russia made Sukhoi Su-30 MKI the superior fighter, which lacked features of Light Combat Aircraft. The multirole light combat aircraft has been modified for engaging in light combat missions, strikes, reconnaissance and interdiction role along with trainer role. They are equipped with guns and short-range air to air missiles. It can also be used for the purpose of anti-helicopter missions.

Six fighter crafts Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F 16 Fighter, Mikoyan MiG-35 and Saab JAS 39 Gripen took part in this contest. On 31st January 2012, the announcement of victory of France made Dassault Rafale was announced. The Dassault Rafale Aircraft has lowest life-cycle cost. Both the countries entered into a deal in 2014. Indian Defence Ministry wanted Dassault to be solely responsible for sale and delivery of the said fighter craft. In March 2014, both the countries decided to deliver 18 aircraft to India. Dassault decided to reinvest 50% of earnings into another Indian Defence Sector. On the contrary, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar called M-MRCA tender “effectively dead”. India officially withdrew this tender on 30th July 2015. Both India and France agreed upon the terms of purchasing 36 Rafales for the totalled US $ 8 billion. Each aircraft costs US $ 200, with an offset requirement of 30% of the deal’s value for France to reinvest India’s Defence Sectors.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s defence procurement deal has been criticized by opposition parties with Congress at the forefront. The general public of India and Indian media are outraged after the details of the MRCA deal have been made public. Purchase of Rafale aircraft has been evolved into a mega corruption scandal in defence procurement. Reportedly, Modi’s government has intensified propaganda warfare against Congress leadership through pamphlets etc highlighting the corruption of Uttar Pradesh government, questioning the patriotism of Congress leadership on the price issue of each Rafale aircraft.

On the other hand, the Ambani’s Reliance Private Limited is also attached to the Rafale Aircraft deal. The opposition of India has been criticising “Modi-Ambani” unholy nexus. Hence, the Rafale deal is also viewed in the same context. The darkest side of the picture is that Indian defence Minister Parrikar himself was not aware of the deal, before 48 hours of the announcement.

Rafale purchase scam is about the outrageous price, the Jets are being purchased for and that too with terms, which are totally unfair to India. In this scenario, instead of caring for its public, India is evolved in such a costly defence deal. Even the aircraft to be delivered were reducing from 126 to 36, whereas the spending remained the same US $ 8 billion. In Indian parliament, the question was raised. The Congress questioned Modi’s Government that why only 36 Rafale crafts when 126 were required and the original deal was of 126 aircrafts. The opposition decided to present the case of Rafale Aircraft procurement to the court. Kapil Sibal announced to move the court after getting documents.

Concluding more, India is also a developing country and most of its public is living below the poverty line. The economy of India is also not strong enough to enter into expensive defence deals. India’s mentally to increase its defence budget leads it to the procurement of expensive aircraft. But the worst corruption is in the defence deals. Indian government should look after its public and try not enter into the “race of arms and ammunition”.

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