Scorpene Leaks: Expeditious, Transparent and Impartial Inquiry NeededDespite Defence Minister Manohar Parikkars assurance that there is nothing to worry about the leak of classified papers of design and capability of the Scorpene submarine and that the Indian navy is addressing all issues, nagging concerns remain on two counts one, how such classified information could be leaked and from where and two, how will it compromise Indias naval plans and its proposed use of the six submarines under production and the two more that it wanted to buy.
By Sunil Garodia
By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2016-08-26 20:05:13
Military hardware purchases, especially those of cutting edge technology that promise to give one an advantage over the enemy, are backed by specific agreements about maintaining total secrecy about the deal. Normally, in hi-tech defence contracts of such importance and value, sealed lips are the norm and conditional agreements are made where no-sale or even pitches to certain countries are written in. In such circumstances, the leaks have no doubt compromised Indias security plans, especially since the Scorpenes were to be the mainstay of the Indian navys sub-surface fleet for the next two decades or so. The leaked data about design and capability will definitely help Indias enemies to source a better submarine on the one hand and neutralize the Scorpene in a war scenario through such advance information on the other. In the worst case scenario, India might have to dump the submarines and write-off the investment of Rs 23000 cr. Any attempt to salvage the deal at the cost of the nations security is neither advisable nor, obviously, will it be undertaken.
But what is definitely needed is for the government to conduct an impartial and transparent inquiry into the leaks. Often, such inquiries yield little because it takes years to complete one due to overlapping jurisdictions, the need to get court orders to demand information from third parties and other hurdles in the form of people wanting to protect their backs and organizations their turf. But since the Scorpene leaks involve a matter of national security, India will have to expedite the inquiry and get to the bottom of the sabotage. If needed, there should also be an inquiry conducted by a joint parliamentary committee after an expert committee submits its report.