Modernisation Delays Solved? India’s New ‘Temp’ Defence Minister Also Controls Funds!

The man expected to officially take charge as India’s new Defence Minister is expected to hold the joint charge of Finance Minister. The implications of such an unusual dual charge are immediately apparent: quicker clearances, faster processing, and shorter lead time for modernisation, funds allocation and flexibility of budgetary proposals. The dual charge also makes Mr Jaitley one of the most powerful persons in the brand new Narendra Modi Cabinet in Delhi. In the early hours today, it had been speculated that Prime Minister Modi would keep the Defence portfolio with himself. The dual charge of Finance and Defence to Mr Jaitley signals the importance the new government could be placing on efficiency and swifter decisions.
The new leadership will soon receive presentations from the armed forces chiefs on priorities, both operational and modernisation related. This, coupled with inputs from former Chief of Army Staff, Gen (Retd) VK Singh, himself now a junior minister (in charge of North East Affairs) and former Minister of State in the MoD Rao Inderjit Singh, will be a template for forward movement on a littany of deals and proposals that have drifted endlessly for years with little or no clarity on when or how they’ll end. Big hopes from a new dispensation. Let’s see how it works out. Either way, the Cabinet portfolios remain unofficial — no formal announcement yet.

Would love to have your thoughts. Comment away!

UPDATE @ 10AM, May 27: Mr Jaitley has just clarified that the charge of Defence is transitory/temporary until an expansion of the Union Cabinet, implying that a full-time/dedicated Defence Minister will be chosen at a later date, perhaps a few months from now. Quick thoughts: The new PM couldn’t find someone he could entrust yet full-time with Defence, which is a story all by itself. And two, that a ‘temporary’ minister may not want to take any big decisions in the time that has holds the functional dual charge. Oh well.

13 thoughts on “Modernisation Delays Solved? India’s New ‘Temp’ Defence Minister Also Controls Funds!”

  1. It definitely is a good development. But both finance and defence are HUGE ministries. So I wonder, as to how long the system would work like this? Soon a defence minister will have to be appointed, no doubt.

  2. No NO NO NO NO and NO !!.

    Running the Finance Ministry is a Job that requires a full time capable, technically qualified minister.

    Running (efficiently) the Defence Ministry ALSO is a full time Job that requires a capable technically qualified Defence minister.

    If True, giving Arun Jaitley Finance and "additional charge of def minister" means that he will devote his time and energy towards finance and "handle" Def Min "on the side". Which means leave the Def Min to the grossly CORRUPT AND UNPROFESSIONAL IAS, MOD bureaucrats. Famously known as "BABUs".

    What does that mean ?

    1. We will NEVER have a MUCH needed Chief of Integrated Defence Staff.

    Why is he needed ?
    a. Senior most officer of the armed forces equal to an Natl Sec Adviser (always a Bureaucrat) in position. He would not have to go through any one to get to the PO and will be PMs adviser on all matters military. In our country, the national security council does not have any military presence in the core group,(but there are two Babus usually from foreign service) who provide unqualified advise on military matters.

    b. The CIDS would act as a "judge" in matters of budget spending priority , as he would prioritise what is the real requirement in terms of war fighting capabilities rather than an inter armed force turf battle system that is in effect today.

    c. Over the long term India under the CIDS would implement the US type Unified Combatant Command system , where all military command in a region would be the theater commander like Andaman command for example. Great for Joint ops.

    2. Military officers will never be allowed to be deputed to the MOD (babu kingdom)to professionalize and "technocratize" the MOD. Which means we will buy nonsense, use nonsense and build nonsense. After all a IAS babu who has spent a career in Indian Postal Service , when deputed to MOD makes a decision which the cream of the crop armed forces study in advance to make.

    3. De standardize the army into a non competitive "all lieutenants will retire as Major Generals" force. So if you were a Top notch qualified tactician you will be the same as some army officer who sold meat for money in logistics.

    4. Forget about modernization.

    5. OFB will degenerate further till it disintegrates under its own weight.

    5. Forget about our Old veterans,disabled war wounded, decorated, family of PVC,MVC,AC. or simple retired guys getting any compassion. Leave alone One Rank One Pension/Pay. A legitimate demand that has been denied to the Armed Forces retirees for almost 30 years. Many of them have already died. their pay eaten by Bureaucrats.

    6. Low morale will ruin the military and they will behave like money eating org like police.

    7. China will see all this and reduce India's position in the world to that of … say "Denmark". Some money, No teeth.

    PLEASE Appoint Gen V.K. Singh as Def Min today. If Smriti Irani, who lost in elections, with her VAST qualifications (sarcastic) can be given the post of Minister of HRD. If Jaitley a career Lawyer , can be "SUPER Qualified" for Finance. Who was not elected by the way.

    Then why cant we give a Life time military man, a former COAS, an actual war veteran, A topper in all courses including foreign ones. A Man who literally wrote down the problems faced by the army and sent to PM MMS,An elected MP, who won by the second highest margin (5.xx Lacs Votes) in the BJP after Modi himself,a man with a cleaner image than AK Antony, why cant such a man be "given the responsibility" (not "awarded") of Defence Minister ?


    Shiv Aroor, there are no bad words in my write up, If you would like to publish my opinion, ill be happy and proud.

    Gen VK Singh (retd.) for DEFENCE MINISTER …NOW!!!

    – Rohan Mukund

  3. NSR says –
    Outstanding move to combine finance and defense ministries but it should be for a short time only…
    They need to find a technocrat and defense background defense minister soon..
    They need to appoint a Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) or Joint Chief of Staffs (JCS) who will be main point to deal with the MOD ministers and PM, NSA, etc…
    PM should make it happen immediately so that another Kargil and Depsang does not happen at all…actions can be taken immediately…
    ITBP and BSF should report to Army and intelligence agencies so that immediatel actions can be taken…
    They have lots of pending contracts that needs to be moved quickly…but they must cancel Rafale to hasten other projects immediately…
    Tejas should go on war footing…

  4. Save India and immediately appoint a Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) who will pull together all the services…
    Immediately appoint a technocrat and defense background person as Defense Minister…
    Bad idea to appoint a army general who is aggrieved to DM…No no no…
    Get some onen with great mind on technology and management as DM…

  5. NSR says –
    PM should act immediately to change armed force structure…
    Save India and immediately appoint a Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) who will pull together all the services…
    Immediately appoint a technocrat and defense background person as Defense Minister…
    Bad idea to appoint a army general who is aggrieved to DM…No no no…
    Get some onen with great mind on technology and management as DM…

  6. Jaitley wearing two hats sounds like the perfect impetus to further integrate officerstaff into MoD, a Chief of Integrated Defense Staff, etc. Tight synergy between Finance and Defense is exactly what is needed to effectively put forward new programs, both in equipment and in organization and personnel issues, allowing big pictures synergies and savings to be pursued with full understanding and cooperation of Finance, rather than narrow minded disagreement. That probably is not an ideal permanent set-up, but as a transition measure, why not?

  7. It's about time. There are too many things lagging – the MMRCA project, towed sonar acquisition, etc.

    This might make the process much more efficient. And if we could keep the process from being subverted, it would set an example for the rest of the nation.

    Sumit D.

  8. More Importantly, I hope local defence manufacturing is given an impetus, Even if it means 100% FDI in defence.

  9. Its time for a person who knows the Bolts and Nuts of Defence, So my choice would be Rtd Gen V.K.Singh. A person who served his country and a true man against corruption. Let Modiji can take a good call on this..

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