Long political stint of Congress at Centre and five-year term of BJP hasn’t done much good for defence forces. There is no hidden secret that army short of crucial weapon so is air force as far as aircraft is concerned. The army short of crucial weapon was brought to the fore by none else than Lt Gen Sarath Chand, then Vice-Chief of the Army Staff while deposing before a Parliamentary panel last year. The deposition has revealed worrying gaps in the army’s state of preparedness. Sixty-eight per cent of the equipment at the disposal of the armed forces is outdated. Shockingly, only eight per cent of the arsenal is truly state of the art – this for an army that has the onerous responsibility of not only guarding some of the most inhospitable terrains in the world but also neutralising the threat posed by terrorists in the restive corners of the country. There were certain issues that remained unsaid by the vice-chief. The challenges confronting India’s defence personnel go beyond rusty armoury. The worrying data show, among other things, the stressful conditions that officers and jawans are subjected to in the line of duty. The BJP, which likes to project itself as a party which is particularly sensitive to the army’s requirements, has made quite a bit of noise about its budgetary allocation for the modernisation programme during Congress regime. But the recent budget by BJP too has allocated a minimal increase in the budgetary estimate. Apparently, the Centre has not extended adequate support to several projects that the army had identified for the prime minister’s much touted Make in India programme. Gen Chand’s reservations now expose the BJP’s indifference to the jawan. Modern weaponry, financial resources and – this is crucial – a government that is serious about addressing the chinks in the armour is the key in this respect.
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