His tenure that is coming to an end with the end of UPA II may have inspired jokes as caustic as ‘We can fight Pakistan with AK-47, but not with A K Antony’. But the Defence Ministry has already started canonising their minister with a glowing report card in an election year.
The ministry has launched a public relation blitzkrieg with its first report released in March first week that has highlighted some major achievements during ‘Mr Clean’ Antony’s seven-and-a-half-year long innings in South Block.
In a 26-page ‘white-paper’, the ministry has listed achievements in modernisation and infrastructure development of all three forces, bringing transparency in the system and modernisation of Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) among others.
However, top sources in the ministry said the big claims of promoting self-reliance in developing military hardware and software is far from ground reality as indigenous content in defence capital procurement has actually gone down from 40.65 per cent in 2011-12 to 39.58 per cent in 2012-13. Even in total defence capital procurement for armed forces, the indigenous equipment and weapons are only 40 per cent and that may go down further. Sixty per cent weapons of the armed forces are still powered by foreign hardware and software.
Although, the ministry has been focusing on indigenisation under its Defence Procurement Procedure to eradicate rampant corruption and kickbacks in foreign deals, the facts about Indian defence manufacturing units owned by the government are shocking.
Sources said in most of the government-owned companies, indigenous content is almost static for the last 2-3 years. “In case of Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), India’s top-of-the-line shipbuilder Mazagon Dock Ltd and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, they are going down. Serious concerns were raised in the review meeting chaired by the defence minister in January. The meeting was informed that a slight improvement was noticed in defence public sector undertakings with an increase from 60.87 per cent in 2011-12 to 63.61 per cent in 2012-13,” sources added.