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India's Defence PSUs: Political interference and 'Chalta Hai' attitude causing maximum loss to the country's Air Force
Recently answering a question in the Parliament, defence minister Manohar Parrikar disclosed that in the last three years the Indian Air Force (IAF) has witnessed 30 accidents involving jet fighters and helicopters. Apart from the loss of human lives, which stands paramount, it is also the monetary loss worth around Rs. 1165.50 crores, that the country has to suffer.
Most of these accidents have happened because of the technical faults as ascertained by the courts of inquiries. All major repairs and overhauls of IAF aircrafts are undertaken by public sector giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

HAL is producing Jaguar and Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter jets and Dhruv, Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. All these jets and helicopters havemet with unfortunate accidents in past due to technical faults. Sukhoi 30 MKI is a top fighter jet inducted only five years back in IAF. The fleet of Sukhoi 30 MKI, which numbers 195 jet fighters in the IAF is its mainstay and most crucial for Indian defence needs.

This entire fleet has to be grounded due to a recent crash in Pune where both the ejection seats took off on their own. Such grounding is the second time for Sukhoi-30 MKI. Already five of these fighter jets have met with accidents in the last half of a decade, which is very bad record.The maintenance of this aircraft is so poor that only 55 per cent of fleet is operational at any one time.

The Jaguar has also not fared any better. Fault lies with the lack of work culture and politicisation of these large defence PSUs like HAL. Politicians have been interfering in all aspects of functioning of these PSUs including providing jobs to their near and dear ones, merit being no criteria.

Sometimes back, when India was planning to buy and then build under licence American F-16 fighter jets in India at HAL, Americans expressed concern about the incapability of HAL to absorb the technology. At that time HAL was up in arms saying that it was not true. However the fact is that it is very true.

Now India is going to buy Rafael fighter jets from France at the cost of $ 20 billion US dollars.18 of these jets will be made in France and will be inducted in IAF within 34 months after the contract is signed. Rest 108 will be made in India at HAL after transfer of technology in the next seven years.

However, if the work culture of HAL does not change and they continue with the current 'chalta hai' attitude then again we will be losing more of these jet fighters in crashes and precious lives of IAF personnel will be lost.

It is time Narendra Modi-led Government look into these things and working of these PSUs. If Prime MinisterModi wants his visionary concept of 'Make In India' succeed, then political interference in working of defence PSUs must be stopped and they must be made to function professionally or they should be privatised to the extent of 49 per cent so that proper management and accountability is established. These types of losses just cannot be accepted.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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