An IDC Book Review


New Delhi, 15 July 2006


The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat was cleverly sacked by the then Defence Minister George Fernandes on 31st December 1998, using the provisions of the draconian Art 311 末 the same article used by Navy/MOD to sack the three naval officers and one air force officer in the infamous War Room leak case.

The Art 311 of the Constitution is a very much misused article and seems to have become a habit with the Government so far as the Navy is concerned. It now appears that the Navy regrets it because the CBI has been charged to prove that the Navy did a poor job of the Board of Inquiry and much muck has arisen.

Bhagwat was sacked under art 311 because he questioned the Defence Minister and the MOD and took on the arms lobby. The flimsy excuse of his speaking about the ATV project and asking for its audit was a spark which angered the establishment. Today TV media and Shishir Gupta of Indian Express tell us about the project that the Government says does not exist and yet thousands of crores have been spent on the project. The Government must come out with the truth or else it may regret it later. The reasons for sacking of Bhagwat were elsewhere.

Bhagwat has launched his second book with a pot pouri of chapters under the title 禅he Eye Opening 末 As I Saw. The book  races through from the nature of war, the speed of communications to much criticism of the Indo剖S relations and discussions on the Great Game in Afghanistan. In between are nuggets to tell you how Bhagwat perceived some of the happenings during his time in the big white chair in South Block, which was literally snatched away from under his nose.

The Chinese rise and its navy also figure in the book and so does energy security. The author relates an incident when his wife asked the then DRDO head and now President APJ Abdul Kalam, whether a successful missile programme steered by him was a substitute for the basic electricity and water etc. we lack. Bhagwat says a silence ensued. Even today India is looking for thermo nuclear weapons when basics and a small credible nuclear deterrent could do. The book ends with a chapter on arms merchants and Special forces, which he calls 叢rivate military companies.

The book comes at a time when the Navy is in the news for the shenanigans of a few bad eggs who seem to have copied files at random from the War Room computers of the Indian Navy  not knowing or caring what a bad name they may bring to the fine men in white uniform. They handed these files to two colleagues who had retired and the matter now in the hands of the CBI it appears who were able to read wiped out pen drives and hard disks. Instead of going for "in camera hearings" the CBI is busy deflecting the main issues by releasing their voluminous Charge Sheet to their selected media friends.

We hope this time around the CBI will do better than what they accomplished in the HDW and Bofors deals. In a nutshell the book suggests that in the Bofors deal, it appears that Gen K Sundarji possibly changed the evaluation from the French GIAT gun to Bofors, on a hint from the higher ups so that it would ensure him the Chief痴 hat. Gen Mayadas was livid but helpless. In a UN meeting in 1985 Rajiv possibly advised Palme of Sweden what to do to get the contract and Bofors did just that 末 matched the French and changed Bofors legal Agent Win Chaddha as advised to AE Services. Major Wilson and a Stott opened the company in UK and later the large moneys went into a Svenska account possibly connected with Quatrocchi and the money flew away, some to UK.

Win Chaddha got his small winding up charges and the Hindujas who were retainers for Bofors and had operated the Pitco account possibly named after their father Pitamber, possibly got their small retainer for the Indian Bofors deal. The CBI deflected the matters to Hinduja and if the whole Pitco account was opened there may have been fireworks in many countries, so the Hindujas pleaded that the payment was not a commission and finally they got away with it.

Poor Win Chaddha died living in Dubai on his winding up charges, and the CBI after years got uncertified accounts of Svenska and others from Swedish courts and finally gave up. A law officer went and cleared the final money in London and life goes on, for us to see what if anything happens in the Scorpene deal and the Navy and the NSC leaks.

To get a flavour of how he thinks and how he saw the Government working when he was CNS and his personal thoughts on matters military, the book is a great bed side read.

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