They are usually the ‘invisible men’, but with Choppergate all over us, arms dealers are again the talk of the town. The question is, with India now the largest arms importer in the world, can we wish them away? Are they unrealistic, the policy guidelines laid down by the government vis-a-vis the arms agents? After all, international trade continues to flourish in other sectors with the open participation of agents, why keep the arms pliers in the shadows? Gulshan Luthra, editor of defence and trade magazine India Strategic, says, “The rulebook says no serving personnel can interact with a foreign supplier. But navigating the bureaucracy and negotiating and balancing policies and procedures is far from easy. Which is why, whether the government accepts it or not, these men who purportedly don’t exist actually do.”
Twelve years after it was made mandatory in 2001, even today nobody has come forward to register as a defence agent with the Union ministry of defence (MoD). This is because any commission paid to an Indian citizen for an arms deal is automatically a criminal offence, forcing suppliers and agents to look for ever more devious ways to account for such payments.
The guidelines requiring the agents to register, explained an unofficial ‘defence agent’, were too intrusive and arbitrary. Full disclosure of the commission paid, bank details etc may even expose them to extortion, he says. And with defence deals often taking a decade or more to wrap up, the agents will in any case be vulnerable to changing policies, investigations and litigation.
So, with no official avenues open, networking is the name of the game. A trade magazine insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, says, “We’ll never officially admit to it but if you take a close look at the parties hosted by us and the guest list, you will realise that we are in fact setting the ground for future interactions. An informal introduction with a service chief by a retired chief, and the stage is all set.”
As insider status is crucial; agents or conduits tend to be related to high-level politicians, bureaucrats, senior defence officers, even entertainers— perhaps also the reason why the CBI routinely fails to crack defence deal cases. For example, one of India’s most high-profile arms agents now, Abhishek Verma, comes from a leading Congress political family and is said to be close to the CBI top brass too.
Once upon a time, a certain Sudhir Choudharie was the most powerful middleman in India. In the last couple of decades, though, a new crop has risen. Almost all major overseas defence firms now have offices or liaison bureaus in India, with local representatives to push their case. The latter, in turn, have on their rolls a full retinue of retired military officers and civil servants.
Among the new breed are, of course, the Tyagi brothers from the latest AgustaWestland chopper scandal. They have been operating in the power sector for a while now. Rajeev Tyagi, known in power circles as ‘Docsa Tyagi’, is a doctor by training but doesn’t have a practice. He operates out of an office in Ferozeshah Market in Delhi. Unlike other ‘agents’, Rajeev is usually seen in kurta-pyjamas. It is through him that the other two brothers started operating in power circles, brokering deals.
An insider who knows them well says, “The three brothers—Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep—are close to several top bjp leaders too. In fact, Rajeev Tyagi’s proximity to former PM A.B. Vajpayee was well known. He was even an unofficial interlocutor between Muslim leaders upset over the Babri mosque demolition issue and the then BJP government at the Centre.”
Arms agents are candid— commissions on deals are paid everywhere, but they are among the highest in India. A normal commission ranges between 2-5 per cent of the total contract value but in India it fluctuates from 5-15 per cent. This is because, as one agent puts it, “the risks are higher and the recipients many more”.
They also claim to be even-handed while dealing with political parties, cultivating and paying off politicians across the spectrum, both in the ruling coalition and the opposition. Defence deals, especially high-value ones, take a long time to be finalised and often span over a decade. No agent can afford to take a chance and needs to keep everyone in good humour, taking into account the possibility of a change of guard and government.
In the past 10 years, India’s defence forces have been on a buying spree. Close to $50 billion in purchases were made in the last decade, while this decade will see defence acquisitions worth some $100 billion more. With the elaborate checks and balances in place, it is difficult to say that greed, and not need, prompted the purchasing spree. But precisely because of the elaborate processes, the procurement process also slows down and encourages bribes at every step to speed it up.
The situation has also accrued due to the inability of domestic players like DRDOs to keep pace with the modernisation of our forces. “Our ordnance factories have failed to satisfy our defence requirements,” admits Dr Laxman Behera of the official defence ministry think-tank IDSA.
Talking about the new-age arms agent, defence analyst Rahul Bedi says, “The omnipresent agent is essentially an entrepreneur with a flair for public relations and man-management, and has become almost indispensable to the procurement process. Through experience, patience and tenacity in dealing with the Indian bureaucracy and the MoD’s hidebound systems, he unravels for his principals the complex procurement matrix.” In return, he gets a handsome monthly retainer and working expenses, and a hefty commission disbursed overseas on deal closure. Retainers ensure comfortable lifestyles and expensive offices whilst commissions could run into crores. Bedi recalls that “before the Bofors scandal, service officers were grateful for the odd Scotch whisky bottle, a carton of cigarettes or, for the more discerning, an expensive fountain pen or Havana cigar box from vendors or their local representatives”.
Nowadays, other than cash, major enticements include jewellery, property, top-end cars, overseas education for the children of military and MoD officials and often the paid lavish wedding, anniversary or birthday parties. Other enticements include sex, premium alcohol, fully paid-up overseas family holidays, golf sets, even rare pets or antique furniture for the memsahib.
Bribes aside, the arms agents do have people batting for them. Major general (retd) Mrinal Suman argues that they perform a necessary and useful task. With their domain knowledge, they can provide useful inputs on technological advancements, qualitative requirements and price-fixing besides providing after-sales support. Treating them like dirt, he adds, has not really helped.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Yet another scam breaking out. Manmohan and Sonia's record in looting the country is a record almost unbeatable. Manmohan will surely go down history books.
News for Rolls Royce bribery investigation ""
News for rolls royce bribery investigation
CBI to probe bribery charges in $1.2 bln Rolls-Royce deal
Reuters India - 1 hour ago
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The defence ministry said on Monday it had ordered a bribery investigation over state-run Hindustan Aeronautics ...
Rolls-Royce Faces Indian Corruption and Bribery Investigation
International Business Times UK - by Lianna Brinded - 16 minutes ago
Indian 'arms dealer' on CBI radar held in UK Rolls-Royce bribery case
Feb 15, 2014 - ... involvement in a bribery scandal involving Rolls-Royce company. ... a criminal investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption at ...
Rolls-Royce faces inquiry over Indian jet bribes claim - Telegraph
www.telegraph.co.uk › ... › News by Sector › Epic › Rolls-Royce Group
2 hours ago - Indian defence minister is said to have called in detectives from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after allegations of bribes were made ...
SFO launches formal bribery investigation at Rolls-Royce - Telegraph
www.telegraph.co.uk › ... › News by Sector › Epic › Rolls-Royce Group
Dec 23, 2013 - Rolls-Royce, the aero-engine manufacturer, said the Serious Fraud Office has launched a formal investigation into bribery and corruption ...
Rolls-Royce Faces Indian Corruption and Bribery Investigation
by Lianna Brinded - in 79 Google+ circles
16 mins ago - Rolls-Royce will come under close scrutiny after India's defence ministry confirmed that it has ordered an investigation into the deal the ...
Rolls-Royce: SFO launches formal bribery and corruption investigation
www.theguardian.com › Business › Rolls-Royce
by Rupert Neate - in 26 Google+ circles
Dec 23, 2013 - Rolls-Royce is accused of bribing Tommy Suharto to persuade ... The Serious Fraud Office has opened a formal criminal investigation into ...
Rolls-Royce investigated for bribery - BBC
Dec 23, 2013 - The Serious Fraud Office starts a formal investigation into jet engine maker Rolls-Royce over concerns about bribery and corruption in its ...
Rolls Royce bribery probe: Millionaire Lib Dem donor and son ...
Feb 14, 2014 - The SFO is investigating allegations that Choudhrie was an intermediary used by Rolls-Royce in alleged bribes in Indonesia and China.
Rolls-Royce is investigated by the SFO over alleged bribery abroad ...
www.independent.co.uk › News › Business › Business News
Dec 24, 2013 - The Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption at the defence and aerospace giant ...
SFO launches criminal probe into Rolls-Royce bribery claims - FT.com
www.ft.com › Companies › Industrials
Dec 23, 2013 - The UK Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption at Rolls-Royce, the leading aircraft ...
Incidentally one TV Channel was quoting a figure of Rs Ten thousands crores.
One More Scam ? THIS SCAM TOOWE COME TO KNOW FROM INVESTIGATIONS OF SERIOUS FRAUD OFFICE UK not by any Indian Agency !
" The Defence Ministry has ordered a CBI inquiry into the purchase of aero engines by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) from Rolls Royce, putting one of the world’s largest defence and aerospace companies under the scanner.
The inquiry has been ordered into alleged irregularities in purchases made over a four-year period, starting 2007, from the UK-based firm.
The order for an inquiry comes two weeks after arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie and his son were arrested by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the UK, which is probing serious bribery allegations in the sale of Rolls Royce engines in Asia.
Sources in the Defence Ministry said that the CBI probe was ordered after complaints alleged discrepancies in the contract for engines, and charged officials in HAL and the Defence Ministry with taking bribes.
The engines were procured for the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) that is being produced by HAL for the Air Force and Navy.
Rolls Royce has not yet commented on the Indian inquiry.''
By the Way Outlook did never reported as this News is being discussed on TV Channels sine yesterday night ??
The CHOPPERGATE is most IDEAL for cancelling for payment of KICK BACKS as 1-- the country supplying HELICOPTER itself have declared that KICK BACKS have been paid, 2-- cancelling VVIP HELICOPTER DEAL will not affect DEFENCE PREPARDENESS in any way. So the deal should be cancelled immidiately. Let AUGASTA WESTLAND get back the Rs 350 CRORE KICKBACK it paid to everyone including Rs 200 CRORE from the "FAMILY". ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Why waste more CRORES on CBI INVESTIGATION & JPC when CBI & JPC have NEVER EVER got back the CRORES paid as KICKBACKS in any SCAM???
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