The only defence dealer I’ve met left me several nuggets. Defence deals the world over, he told me, had an in-built cost of four per cent as ‘commission’. In India, though, it was 10 per cent. No, it didn’t all go to politicians. “There are so many people involved in defence procurement here that just to get the file to move from one office to another takes time and well, speed money,” he’d said with a laugh. This fits in with the size of the AgustaWestland deal (Rs 3,600 crore) and the amount pledged to middlemen (Rs 385 crore).
I’d looked up the previous defence procurement guidelines—Manohar Parrikar announced a new policy in March—which set out how a requirement was to be flagged, how many agencies needed to endorse it before the ministry would even issue the RFP (request for proposal) to suppliers. After that, another merry-go-round of committees, followed by price negotiations and nods from the finance ministry and the cabinet before issuing a supply order.