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Archives for : February2018

RAFALE EXPOSE: With her half-truths, Defence Minister lands herself and PM Modi in deeper trouble

Ravi Nair
Key Points:
*With her half-truths, Defence Minister lands herself and PM Modi in deeper trouble*
*How by relying on Defence Procurement Procedure of 2013, Nirmala Sitharaman has fallen in her own trap*
*Under 2013 Defence Procurement Procedure, Anil Ambani’s Reliance was not eligible to be Dassault Aviation’s offset partner*
Since we broke the story of the mysterious escalation of prices of Rafale fighter jets by the Indian Air Force by the Narendra Modi government, the government and their supporting media tried their best to give inexplicable reasons to justify the prime minister’s decision. This despite the fact that the new deal, struck by PM Modi, had violated set norms.
The questionable decisions included scrapping of 95% of the completed negotiations on RFP, rejection of Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd as the Indian partner and the critical Transfer of Technology (ToT) from France to India. Then there was PM Modi’s unilateral announcement of the purchase of 36 units of Rafale jets off-the-shelf without the relevant cabinet committee’s approvals coupled with Dassault Aviation’s selection of Reliance as the Joint Venture partner. The only advantage working in favour of Reliance headed by Anil Ambani in defence equipment manufacturing sector- let alone the technically challenging fighter jet manufacturing- was the group chairman’s proximity to Modi. Hence its preference over HAL as JV partner to fulfill its 50% offset obligation.
Call it her over-enthusiasm or hubris, the Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was relatively new in her post, back then in November, hurriedly held a press conference and rubbished all the questions raised in our two-part expose. She went on to audaciously declare that the prices negotiated by PM Modi were much cheaper and promised to release details soon.
The so-called mainstream media outlets that initially appeared reluctant to provide coverage to our expose when we first broke the news and who even blacked out the opposition party’s press conference; were seen nimble-footed in giving blow-by-blow coverage to Sitharaman’s press conference later. Ironically, even in their glaring biases, these media outlets played a crucial role in unwittingly informing India and the world that there were indeed some uncomfortable questions in the deal and how they remained unanswered. Although the ruling party and its propaganda machinery desperately sought to portray our expose as a campaign to malign the image of the BJP and Modi in the run up to last year’s Gujarat assembly polls, they never explained the reasons for the price escalation satisfactorily.
*Sitharaman makes the mess of Rafale controversy*
The topic, over the next two months, was placed in the back-burner till it was raised in the Rajya Sabha by congress MP Prof Rajeev Gowda during the ongoing budget session of the parliament.
Gowda asked the details of the penalty imposed on Dassault for refusing to fulfill the contractual obligations, cost per air craft under the inter-government agreement signed by this government for 36 Rafale jets and whether the cost difference is due to the inclusion of a private player instead of HAL. Ms Sitharaman’s answer in the parliament was very interesting, to term it politely.
The first answer reads “there was no contract with Dassault for the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft”. Technically this argument is correct because the RFP was cancelled by this government before signing the contract. But the pertinent question that remained unanswered by Sitharaman was why they cancelled the RFP when the negotiations were 95% completed? Dassault Chairman CEO confirmed this in front of the Indian High Commissioner to France, senior IAF officials and French journalists in a press conference. When Eric Trappier was getting ready to visit India in two weeks, the Indian PM announced his decision to go for the off-the-shelf purchase of 36 aircrafts, that too in almost two weeks. *(Eric Trappier’s press conference was on 25 March 2015 and Modi’s announcement from Paris was on 10 April 2015).*
Sitharaman’s second answer in the parliament reads that she cannot disclose the details of the price at which the Modi government signed the contract due to a certain clause in  “Agreement between The Government of the Republic of India and The Government of the French Republic concerning the Protection of Classified Information and Material in the field of Defence”. Really? Let’s read what that agreement, signed between India and France in 2008, stated. The said agreement read, “For any contract or sub-contracting contract that includes classified information and material, a security annex shall be drawn up. In this annex, the competent security authority from the Party forwarding the information or the material, shall specify what has to be protected by the Receiving Party, as well as the corresponding classification level, applicable to it.”
The agreement was signed on 25 January 2008 for a period of 10 years. The agreement had a clause to renew it for another 5 years within a six month prior notice by either side. If that did not happen, the validity of the cited agreement expired on 24 January 2018.
For a moment, let us assume that the above mentioned agreement was renewed (though there’s no information of that available in public domain). But, it raises a more fundamental question. In a democracy, how can the defence minister hide the financial details of a big transaction from the exchequer in the name of a secrecy agreement? That argument itself raises more questions thereby giving more credence to the clouds of suspicion surrounding the Rafale deal.
The last answer to the question raised is the best example of wordplay; a witty exploitation of the meanings and ambiguities of words. It reads, “the quantum of offsets in 36 Rafale IGA is 50% which includes investments in terms of Transfer of Technology (ToT) for manufacture and/or maintenance of eligible products and services. Details of Indian offset partners have not yet been provided by the French industrial suppliers and as per the provisions of the Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) 2013, they need to do so at the time of seeking offset credits or one year prior to discharge of offset obligations through the Indian offset partners. As per the provision of DPP 2013, Indian offset partner need not be a Public Sector Undertaking”.
In the second part of the last answer, Sitharaman either misled the parliament or she is simply ignorant. When Dassault formed a JV with an Indian corporate house owned by  Modi’s personal friend just before the prime minister announced his decision to purchase 36 units of Rafale off-the-shelf from France and 13 months later when the JV partners laid the foundation stone for their facility in Nagpur in the presence of Sitharaman’s cabinet colleague Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, wasn’t she aware that the investment Dassault was making into this JV was a part of their offset obligation? But the JV partners say that their upcoming facility is a part of the offset obligation of 36 Rafale deal. Here is the Dassault Press Release and the second screenshot is of the press release of the JV Company.
*Falling in own trap by Sitharaman and Anil Ambani*
Defence Minister is correct when she says the Indian offset partner need not be a Public Sector Undertaking i.e. HAL. DPP 2013stipulates such a clause in chapter one, Annexe D, clause 4.3. But the same Annexe D has another clause 4.1 that reads “Indian Enterprises and Institutions and Establishments engaged in manufacture of eligible products and / or provision of eligible services, including DRDO, are referred to as the Indian offset Partner.”
Under the DPP’s clause 4.1 of chapter 1, it’s clearly stated that for an entity to be an Indian Offset Partner, it ought to be ‘engaged in manufacture of eligible products.’ The eligible products in the context of deal with Dassault was the Rafale jets. Anil Ambani’s company had previous experience of manufacturing fighter jets or was engaged in its manufacturing when it was chosen as the IOP with Dassault. So, questions may be asked if the government was in violation of the DPP by selecting the Anil Ambani’s Reliance to be the offset partner on Rafale deal even at the cost of HAL.
After Sitharaman’s reply in the parliament, the MoD put out a long press release.
There are glaring flaws in this press release too. To start with, the ministry says, “the then defence minister (under the UPA) exercised an unprecedented personal veto on the laid down institutional process then underway for procurement of 126 MMRCA”. This line is totally misleading and too political. As per the available information in public domain, the then defence minister, AK Antony, asked to halt the negotiations and inquire when a TDP MP alleged corruption in the process of selection of L1 bidder.
The process was halted till the inquiry was over and the report said that the allegations were baseless. We have pointed out this in detail in our earlier stories. Another point is, here too, the ministry is seeking the help of a non-existing secrecy agreement to hide the financial transactions of the deal from the public. As for the argument of a better deal being struck by this government, we have to understand that the technical aspects of the deal was concluded according to the RFP submitted by Dassault as per IAF’s requirements and no major changes were done.
The press release also talks of “India specific changes”. What does this childish argument of “India specific changes” mean? Does it mean that the IAF submitted its requirement without considering “India specific changes” and also that negotiations went ahead until Modi announced his decision to purchase 36 units off-the-shelf? If that’s the case, this government must initiate legal action against all those who were involved from the time of RFI, trials, finalisation to RFP and contract negotiations.
It is clearly mentioned by many retired senior IAF officials including couple of previous IAF Chiefs that the requirement submitted by the Air Force covered everything- from changes needed for India to maintenance, warranty, parts, weapons, training and the changes needed to integrate the weapons. So, if there’s anything new under the deal struck by Modi, then this must be explained by the defence minister. The atrocious claim of “this government concluded the deal in one year” is also laughable because the Manmohan Singh government had to complete the trial and finalisation of the product and the RFP. This is a time consuming exercise but absolutely key for the government before it starts the negotiations with the preferred bidder.  The negotiations on Rafale by the UPA government started in 2012 just two years before the Modi government came to power.
The defence ministry, in its statement, also clarified that the ToT was not a part of the RFP and manufacturing under the license was the option but that too was not agreed by the vendor and ended up in a stalemate. They are in a way agreeing that the previous government stood its ground on the terms and conditions as per the RFP. In other words the defence ministry under Sitharaman has confirmed that the Manmohan Singh government was tough in negotiations and did not compromise the ToT.  But , the Modi government buckled under pressure from a private company from France and conceded all the terms and conditions set by a foreign entity in order to please a private entity in India, owned by his friend.
*Another half-truth*
And the claim of “manufacturing under license” is utterly misleading too, because a lot of people who were closely associated with the deal on various occasions have confirmed that the bigger loss to India as a country on account of 36 Rafale jets was the loss of technology of fighter jets and the source code of a most advanced radar system. Although the Modi government remains adamant and refuses to consider it as the country’s loss.
The Modi government keeps saying that they followed all the guidelines and took the approval of all the relevant committees before signing the inter-government agreement. They are right in that point. But what the government and the BJP are not answering is how the PM could take a unilateral decision when he announced the deal from France on 10 April, 2015 as these approvals came only in September 2016. There the main question is, who gave the permission to Modi to take such a decision?
In nutshell, instead of giving proper and satisfactory answers, Sitharaman and her ministry are just beating about the bush.
(The author can be reach on Twitter @t_d_h_nair )

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Deputy Head of UK Charity Oxfam Resigns Over Sex Scandal #Vaw


An Oxfam shop is seen, in London, Britain, February 11, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls Reuters


LONDON (Reuters) – British charity Oxfam said on Monday that Deputy Chief Executive Penny Lawrence had resigned, taking responsibility for how the organization “failed to act adequately” in response to concerns raised internally about sexual misconduct by some members of staff.

“Over the last few days, we have become aware that concerns were raised about the behavior of staff in Chad as well as Haiti that we failed to adequately act upon,” Lawrence said in a statement.

“It is now clear that these allegations – involving the use of prostitutes and which related to behavior of both the Country Director and members of his team in Chad – were raised before he moved to Haiti.”

The resignation comes as Oxfam is battling to save its British government funding after a newspaper reported alleged sexual misconduct by Oxfam staff in Haiti during humanitarian relief operations there following a 2010 earthquake.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)

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मोदी का ‘पकौड़ा‘ रोजगार- एक पकौड़े वाली की जुबानी

– सुनील कुमार

आज कल पकौड़े बेचने की चर्चा काफी हो रही है। छात्र विरोध स्वरूप पकौड़े का स्टाल लगा रहे हैं। इस तरह की चर्चा की शुरूआत भारत के प्रधानमंत्री के उस बयान से हुआ जिसमें उन्होंने कहा कि कोई पकौड़ा बेच कर 200 रूपये कमा लेता है, वह भी रोजगार है। आखिर मोदी को इस तरह का बयान क्यों देना पड़ा ? हम सभी जानते हैं कि भारत के ‘प्रधान सेवक उर्फ फकीर उर्फ मजदूर उर्फ चैकीदार’, प्रधानमंत्री नरेन्द्र मोदी जब भारत के प्रधानमंत्री बनने के लिए चुनाव मैदान में थे तो अपने चुनावी सभाओं में घोषणा किए थे कि अगर उनकी सरकार बनाती हैं तो वे हर साल 2 करोड़ लोगों को रोजगार देंगे। लेकिन मोदी काल में रोजगार प्रदान करने की दर मनमोहन सरकार के दोनांे कार्यकाल से भी कम रही है। 2013 में मनमोहन सरकार 19 लाख रोजगार उत्पन्न कर पाई थी वहीं 2015 में मोदी सरकार मात्र 1.35 लाख रोजगार ही उत्पन्न कर सकी है। रोजगार उत्पन्न नहीं होने के कारण देश में बेरोजगार युवाओं की कतार लम्बी होती जा रही है। ऐसे प्रश्नों से बचने के लिए मोदी ने पकौड़े बेचने व चाय बेचने को भी रोजगार की श्रेणी में रख दिया है। मोदी जी कहने लगे कि ‘स्टार्ट अप’ करो ताकि लोगों को रोजगार मिले। इसी तरह की मनमोहनी बात सुना-सुना कर मोदी जी लोगों को असली मुद्दों से भटकाते रहे हैं।

भाजपा अध्यक्ष अमित शाह ने राज्य सभा में अपने पहले भाषण के दौरान कांग्रेस पर बरसते हुए (भाजपा के लोग बात नहीं रखते दूसरे पर बरसते हैं) पकौड़े बेचने के बयान पर कहा- ‘‘कोई बेरोजगार पकौड़ा बना रहा है तो उसकी दूसरी पीढ़ी आगे आएगी। एक चाय वाला प्रधानमंत्री बन कर इस सदन में बैठा है।’’ हमलोगोें को पता करना चाहिए कि 2014 के बाद कितने चाय वाले के अच्छे दिन आ गए हैं। हमने मोदी जी के बयान के बाद एक पकौड़े बेचेने वाले से बात की, जो दिल्ली-हरियाणा बाॅर्डर पर उद्योग विहार में 15 जनवरी, 2018 से पकोडे़ बेच रहा है। अगर मोदी जी जनता से बहुत सरलता से मिलते तो हम यह सोच सकते थे कि उनके 19 जनवरी, 2018 के साक्षात्कार में पकौड़े वाले रोजगार का आइडिया शायद इसी व्यक्ति से मिला हो।

म. प्र. के पन्ना जिले के रहने वाले सिद्धशरण साहू कई साल पहले गांव छोड़कर दिल्ली, हरियाणा, महाराष्ट्र में कभी परिवार के साथ तो कभी अकेले, परिवार के पेट पालने के लिए निकले। सिद्धशरण साहू का कच्चा मकान था वह भी दो साल पहले बारिश में गिर चुका है। उनकी पत्नी भी उनके साथ कभी कंस्ट्रक्शन में साथ-साथ मजदूरी करती है तो कभी एक्सपोर्ट लाईन में हेल्पर का काम करती है। इसी तरह के रोजगार की तलाश में साहू के दो बच्चों की पढ़ाई भी नहीं हो पाई। आखिर 2013 में सिद्धशरण साहू ने सभी अनुभवों के बाद तय किया कि वह उद्योग विहार में ही काम करेंगे। उन्हांेने हरियाणा के डुंडाहेड़ा गांव को अपना बसेरा़ बनाया। काम के अनुभव के बल पर सिद्धशरण साहू एक्सपोर्ट में चेकर बन गए और कई कम्पनियों में काम करने लगे। वहीं उनकी पत्नी इमरती बाई एक्सपोर्ट में धागा कटिंग का काम करने लगी। घर और कम्पनी में काम के दबाव के कारण इमरती बाई ने काम छोड़ दिया। दबाव के कारण इमरती बाई के स्वभाव में चिड़चिड़ापन आने लगा था। साहू चेकर का काम करते रहे लेकिन एक साल पहले नोटबंदी के समय उनका भी काम छूट गया। वे उद्योग विहार फेस 1 में सिक्युरिटी गाॅर्ड का काम करने लगे, जिसके लिए उन्हें 9,334 रूपये ईएसआई और पीएफ काट कर मिलता था। साहू की पहले तो आठ घंटे की ड्यूटी थी, बाद में उसे बदल कर 12 घंटे का कर दिया गया और तनख्वाह वही रही। इसी बीच उनकी सिक्यूरिटी एजेंसी का नाम भी चेंज हो गया। उनका पीएफ कटने के बावजूद कभी भी उनकी सिक्यूरिटी एजेंसी ने उनको पीएफ एकाउंट नहीं दिया और ना ही काम छोड़ने के बाद उनका पीएफ फाॅर्म भरा जा रहा है। साहू फिर से कम्पनी में लग गए, लेकिन उनकी नौकरी छूट गई। साहू बताते हैं कि काफी कोशिश के बाद भी नौकरी नहीं मिली, क्योंकि जीएसटी के बाद काम कम हो गया है।

सिद्धशरण साहू काम नहीं मिलने के बाद ठेले (रेहड़ी) पर चाय, समौसे, पकौड़े बेचने लगे। दुकान लगाने के लिए दस-बारह हजार रू. खर्च कर रेहड़ी, बर्तन, गैस का छोटा सिलेण्डर, चुल्हा और दुकानदारी के लिए समान खरीदा। सिद्धशरण सुबह 5 बजे जाग कर दुकानदारी के लिए सारे सामान तैयार करते थे। सुबह अपने ठेहा (दुकान लगाने की जगह) पर 9 बजे पहुंच जाते थे और वहां शाम 7 बजे तक रहते थे। 7बजे घर आने के बाद दूसरे दिन की  दुकानदारी के लिए बाजार जाते थे और बाजार से लौटने के बाद लहसून, धनिया की चटनी तैयार करते थे। इस तरह से रोज रात के 9-10 बज जाया करता था। इन कामों में उनकी पत्नी और बच्चे भी हाथ बंटाते थे। 16-17 घंटे परिश्रम कर 15दिन दुकान लगाए, जिसमें 2,000 रूपये घाटा उठाना पड़ा। इसके बाद वे उद्योग विहार फेस 1 में 24 कम्पनी के पास रोड के किनारे रेहड़ी लगाने लगे। रोड के किनारे रेहड़ी लगाने के लिए भी सिद्धशरण को 24, फेस 1, एल्युबिल्ड इंजिनियर के मालिक, डब्ल्यूएफएम के सिक्युरिटी सुपरवाईजर, मुकेश शर्मा के द्वारा 2,500 रूपये एडवांस में लिया गया। इसके अलावा लोकल दादा, पुलिस और गुड़गांव अॅथोरिटी को पैसे देने पड़तेे है (सिद्धशरण के पास अभी तो यह लोग नहीं आए हैं क्योंकि दुकान नई है, लेकिन दूसरे दुकानदार इन लोगों को पैसा देते हंै)। यहां की दुकानदारी से 300-400 रूपये की रोजना बचत होने लगी। इस बचत के लिए सिद्धशरण साहू को सुबह 5 से रात के 10 बजे तक काम करना पड़ता है और पत्नी का पहले से अधिक समय लगने लगा। सिद्धशरण साहू से 20 दिन बाद सिक्युरिटी सुपरवाईजर ने कहा -‘‘मालिक 4000 रूपये प्रति माह मांग रहा है, इतना पैसा दोगे तो दुकान लगाओ नहीं तो अपनी रेहड़ी हटा लो।’’ सि़द्धशरण साहू बताते हैं कि 15 फरवरी तक के लिए एडवांस पैसे दे रखे हैं तबतक दुकान लगाएंगे, उसके बाद वह अपनी दुकान बंद कर देंगे। वे सोचते हैं कि अब जब शहर में नौकरी नहीं है, रेहड़ी लगा कर पकौड़े, समौसे नहीं बेच सकते तो गांव जाकर मजदूरी करेंगे। एल्युबिल्ड इंजिनियर (फेस 1, 24उद्योग बिहार) कम्पनी आज के ‘देश प्रेम’ में अभिभूत होकर कम्पनी के ऊपर तिरंगा फहरा रहा है।

मोदी जी ने बहुत आसानी से यह बता दिया कि पकौड़ा बेचने वाला 200 रूपये कमा लेता है, लेकिन उनको यह पता नहीं कि इस 200 रूपये में से भी कितना बंदर बांटा होता है। सिद्धशरण साहू ने नौकरी नहीं मिलने पर अपना स्टार्ट अप किया, जो अब उन्हंे गांव की तरफ लौटने पर मजबूर कर रहा है। गांव से उजड़ कर शहर आने वाले सिद्धशरण को क्या वापस गांव जाने पर काम मिल पाएगा? क्या केवल तिरंगा फहराने से ही देश भक्ति आ जाती है? एल्युब्लिड इंजिनियरि जैसे कितने भूठे देश प्रेम में अभिभूत होकर सरकारी जमीन का भी किराया वसूल रहे होंगे।

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India – AAP’s healthcare, education reforms model for others at Harvard University


Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia (File | PTI)

NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party government’s innovations in education and healthcare in Delhi are a model for the rest of India, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.

In his address at the India Conference in Harvard University, he said that the ‘Delhi model’ focuses on raising the quality of human resources through access to high-quality education and healthcare.

“India has created several public institutions like the IITs, IIMs and AIIMS that produce professionals of high calibre. But all these institutes currently cater to one to five per cent of the population. For the rest of the 95 per cent, the system has completely collapsed. The situation is similar for healthcare as well.

“The country’s development depends on the quality of its human resource, its people. And the quality of the human resource depends on their access to high-quality education and healthcare. Delhi’s model of governance addresses this fundamental need,” Sisodia said, according to an official release here on Sunday.

Showing pictures of dilapidated government schools, followed by pictures of Delhi government‘s newly constructed and renovated schools, he said: “In the first year we concentrated on improving the infrastructure of schools. Delhi government schools now have smart classrooms, clean and modern washrooms, air-conditioned assembly halls and some even have swimming pools and athletic tracks.”

The government has built 8,000 new classrooms and 10,000 more were in “various stages of completion” and the school management committees have been “rejuvenated” and “empowered”, Sisodia told a gathering consisting of Harvard students and academics besides eminent Indian businessmen and journalists.

He said apart from sending school teachers and principals at universities around the world, including Cambridge, Singapore and Harvard, the ‘Teaching at the Right Level’ model recommended by MIT’s J-PAL has been implemented in Classes 6 to 8 to bridge children’s learning deficits.

On his government’s healthcare reforms, Sisodia underlined that In a country like India where people cannot afford high insurance premiums, “we need a health assurance model and not a health insurance mode”.

“That is what we are developing through a three-tier healthcare programme. In the first tier is a re-imagined primary healthcare unit — the ‘Mohalla Clinic’. We are now building 25 Mohalla clinics at the cost of one erstwhile dispensary. With more than 160 such clinics functioning throughout the city, the patients who were crowding the large hospitals for primary care have been diverted to local clinics.

“The most striking part of this story is that in all of these clinics we provide consultation, diagnostic testing and medicines free of cost at a cost to the government of just over Rs 100 per patient. In contrast, a consultation at a large government hospital costs us more than Rs 1,000,” Sisodia said.

Stressing policy-making is not “rocket science”, he said: “It requires honest intent to find creative solutions”.

“That is what Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal‘s government has done in the last three years in Delhi. This change is not just needed in Delhi but throughout th” country,” he said in his 40-minute keynote address

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