Front line fourth generation modern fighter Rafale, manufactured by the French major Dassault Aviation, was chosen as the winner in the global tender for 126 MMRCA(medium multi-role combat aircraft) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) before the Narendra Modi government took over in 2014, said reports.
The deal was, however, shelved and subsequently replaced by the announcement of a new contract for direct purchase of 36 Rafale at a cost of about Rs 60,000 crore. The process was underway since 2015 and the contract was signed in September 2016.
As time files, the opposition parties, led by the Congress, have voiced serious concerns about the Rafale deal at a time when India is slated to go for national elections in less than a year from now.
Also Read: NDA’s Rafales’ cheaper than UPA : say report
Political pundits feel that it appears Rafale is going to dominate the electoral discourse in the time to come. Furthermore, observing the attacks on the defence deal lead by Congress one is reminded of a national uproar during the late 80s’ over the purchase of Boforse.
The uproar had eventually cost the then government dearly, although a similar consequence appears highly unlikely this time.
Now news is that India has the dubious reputation of being biggest importer of conventional weapons. Improving our self-reliance index from 30 per cent to 70 per cent was one of the avowed roadmaps of the Kalam committee.
The country has not moved much in this indigenisation improvement objective despite a large number of defence PSUs, ordnancefactories, and private sector companies dotting the field of defence production.
The mandate “Make in India” could not have come at a better time as the Prime Minister has the charisma to reach out to global leaders to make India a preferred place of investment by OEMs (Original equipment manufactures) and design houses.
It is, therefore, disappointing that he has made the switch from technology transfer to HAL to build 108 aircraft in India, as was envisaged in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contract (2014) to directly import 36 aircraft from Dassault Aviation.