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BestOffense: Army chief's belated bribery revelations may slow future Indian arms purchases

There's something funny about the timing of Indian army chief V.K. Singh's revelations that he was offered a bribe to purchase the substandard vehicles of an unnamed truck maker for the Indian army in 2010.

It's odd that he didn't say anything at the time, of course -- though he wouldn't be the first whistleblower to wait until his career was on the skids to take action, as Firstpost points out. But why bring up bribery this week, when India is holding a massive convention for weapons suppliers keen to make inroads with the world's largest arms importer? 

I don't have an answer for you, but I will say this:

Though allegations of kickbacks are nothing new for India's defense sector, the new accusations, in the current climate of corruption-panic, will likely slow India's defense purchases considerably -- as experts like Stephen Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta have identified the fear of being accused of such shenanigans as one of the main reasons that India's procurement process is laboriously slow.

"The enormous amount of money at stake raises the specter of corruption," Cohen and Dasgupta write in Arming without Aiming: India's Military Modernization. "Can India devise a clean procurement system that gives political, military and bureaucratic leaders the confidence to make judgment calls in the selection of weapons?"

Apparently not. And that means many of the be 232 foreign firms and 60 official delegations in New Delhi this week for the four-day 'DefExpo-2012,' which begins on Thursday, should start lowering their expectations.