Indian prosecutors are investigating two
large military procurement deals, to discover if the suppliers got their
contracts by paying bribes. Both suppliers are French. One is a $3 billion
purchase of six Scorpene class
diesel-electric subs. The other is a $600 million buy of 197 light helicopters.
The bribes are believed to be in excess of $100 million. Such bribery incidents
are not new in India, but for many decades, it was kept quiet. However, in the
last few years, more journalists, including some particularly effective Internet
based ones, have brought this culture of bribery out into the open.
Such bribery is not unusual with
military procurement. It's been around for thousands of years. For many
decades, such bribery was relatively low key in India, because the prime
foreign arms supplier was Russia, and there were no competing suppliers. Not
much opportunity to extract bribes. But since the 1990s, India has looked to
acquire more advanced Western, mostly European, weapons. This brought in a new
type of arms selling, by people who were accustomed to offering bribes, or
anything else that would clinch the deal. As a result of the investigations,
and evidence dug up on older deals, the helicopter buy has been cancelled. The
submarine deal is a little farther along, but the Indians may be looking for
prosecutions of guilty parties, and some restitution. All this is a big deal in
Indian politics, because it is believed many of the bribes were directed at
Indian political parties.