Change mindsets to ensure transparency: Antony


New Delhi : The top brass of India’s armed forces was Wednesday urged to “change mindsets” to ensure transparency and fairness in purchases of military hardware.

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“The urgent need of the hour is to change mindsets, in tune with the changing times — where transparency and fairness are the buzzwords,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony said while addressing the Combined Commander’s conference.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired the daylong conference, attended by top commanders of the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force (IAF).

According to Antony, steps like institutionalising the defence planning process and refining defence procurement procedure “have added urgency in the methodology and transparency in functioning”.

“Another instrument towards change is the delegation of powers and transition towards fusion of authority, responsibility and accountability,” he added.

Pointing out that “significant financial powers” had been delegated from the defence ministry to the headquarters of the three services, the minister said: “However, it must be ensured that these powers are put to best use.”

In this context, Antony said that as the armed forces “accelerate” the process of modernisation “we must bear in mind that technology has compressed distances and times”.

“At the same time, it has also significantly reduced response timings at every level.”

Speaking about the efforts being made to ensure integration of the three services, Antony said this “is not merely a desire, but an urgent need of the hour”.

“It is a process that is destined to grow. Synergy can produce only better results than individual efforts,” the minister added.

Turning to the challenges the armed forces faced, Antony said counter-terrorism topped the agenda.

“Terrorism continues to be one of the major challenges facing us. As terrorists constantly modernise their communication network, there is an urgent need to continuously upgrade our own capabilities to successfully counter the threat posed by them.

“In this context, it must be said that the overall situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast has shown steady signs of improvement.”

Referring to the security scenario in the neighbourhood and globally, Antony said India’s role and responsibilities “are bound to increase” as the country developed “as a regional and an economic superpower”.

“Today, India is firmly on the centre stage of international geo-politics. Our defence and strategic partnerships bear testimony to this fact.

“As trans-border threats change in nature and scope, nations are becoming increasingly inter-dependent,” the minister maintained.

“In today’s world, there is a need to carefully monitor the international environment and formulate flexible response options to emerging situations.”