Defense needs face uncertainty in new govt

Although the Council of Ministers has been sworn in, the priority accorded to defense modernization by the new prime minister in terms of allocation of portfolio and exclusive responsibility remains uncertain.

20140526-210420-75860449.jpgThe charge of the Defense Ministry given to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have evoked expectations of greater responsiveness and sensitivity to the procurement requirements of the armed forces.

The responsibility of the defense ministry given to Jaitley, coming after speculation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could retain it himself, may not be without problems for the armed forces.

Senior defense analyst, Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retired), says, “It could be both good and bad. Of course if the same person handles both the defense and finance ministries, the bureaucratic back and forth could be cut short. So there could be synergies there.”

On the other hand he wonders about the wisdom of giving charge of two large ministries like defense and finance to the same person. “These are both full time ministries. More than full-time. How would one person be able to give due attention to both the ministries?”

The general impression on the basis of news reports appears that finance is Jaitley’s brief, with defense as an additional responsibility. “The new government will be presenting its budget soon. How much time would the finance minister have for the defense ministry,” he asks.

This would also have been the case were the prime minister to retain the defense ministry himself. “But,” points out Brigadier Kanwal, “With the prime minister in charge, this would have sent the signal that defense requirements would be a priority and that could have lent focus to the area.”

Although the Council of Ministers has been sworn in, the priority accorded to defense modernization by the new prime minister in terms of allocation of portfolio and exclusive responsibility remains uncertain.

The needs of the defense ministry and the armed forces will likely only get due attention when a full time cabinet minister is appointed.

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Follow Saurabh Joshi on Twitter @ http://www.twitter.com/saurabhjoshi Saurabh is a journalist based in New Delhi, India who has worked in print, television as well as internet news media. Besides defense and strategy, his past assignments have included reporting from Kashmir, coverage of terror strikes as well as election coverage from all over India. He has a Bachelors degree in Journalism (Honors) as well as a law degree (LLB), both from the University of Delhi.
1 comments
SurinderKumarJoshi
SurinderKumarJoshi

Finance and defense both full time and highly important jobs have been for the time being given to Mr Jaitley

The common assumption is that Defense has been given to Arun Jaitley as only an interim measure, to be finally handed over to a permanent incumbent who would be able to do full justice to this all important Min.

So the important point to be discussed is who is that candidate that the PM has in mind and who would be available by the next expansion of the cabinet.Does he intend to take it over himself after the initial tight schedule is over ? Any bright guess ?

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