The plane truth: on Rafale deal row
Mains Paper: 2 | International Relation
Prelims level: Rafale deal
Mains level: Not so important
- The Rafale deal has been the subject of heated claims and counter-claims on two broad issues that the contract to purchase 36 French multi-role fighter aircraft was grossly overvalued and that it was tainted by crony capitalism.
- Ammunition for the second charge came from an unexpected quarter with former French President François Hollande stating in an interview that it was India that suggested the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence Ltd. as the offset partner for the deal.
The political power tussle on this issue
- The Centre has insisted that the choice of offset partners is entirely that of the manufacturer, or of Dassault Aviation.
- Mr. Hollande’s remarks were widely perceived as bolstering the Congress allegation that the Rafale deal was structured to favour one industrialist.
- In the storm that ensued, the clarificatory statements issued — by the Centre, the French Foreign Ministry and Dassault — did little to clearly address what Mr. Hollande had said.
- The Defence Ministry’s statement merely reiterated that governments have no role in offset contracts, which are purely commercial.
- The French government said pretty much the same thing, and Dassault’s statement reaffirmed that it had chosen to tie up with Reliance Defence.
- But all this merely begs the question: did the Centre suggest a partnership with Reliance Defence as Mr. Hollande said?
- It remains to be seen whether Mr. Hollande will now choose to complete his half-finished remarks to the French investigative website.
- No questions have been raised about the capabilities of the Rafale jet, and the corruption allegations have persisted in the absence.
- But a fair part of the reason for the concerns about the deal relate to process.
- It is true that the deal was signed only in September 2016, after clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security, but Mr. Modi’s 2015 declaration of a new deal clearly caught even many of his senior officials unawares.
- The purchase of 126 Rafale aircraft, initiated by the UPA government, andwere still on.
- The greater transparency is the only way to clear the air. Private briefings to Opposition leaders and the disclosure of all information that doesn’t jeopardise national security or impact the aircrafts’ operational capability are good starting points.
- The decision to reject the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine the deal should be reconsidered.
- If the political war over Rafale continues, it is defence modernisation that will become the real victim.
UPSC Prelims Questions:
Q.1) Consider the following statements regarding the Rafale fighter jets:
1. The Rafale is a twin-engine fighter, multi-role fighter aircraft manufactured by French aviation company Dassault.
2. These aircrafts is capable of carrying out all combat missions such as interception, air defence, in-depth strikes, ground support, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
3. India, France ink deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) All the above
UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) What are the key facts behind Rafale deal between India and France?